In December 2018, soon after assuming office as the new chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel said the policy of “bullet-for-bullet” had failed in dealing with the Maoist problem in the state.
“If this problem was to be solved by blazing guns, it would have been solved during Raman Singh's 15-year rule. The policy of bullet-for-bullet has failed miserably and it's time to give a new thought to the issue,” Baghel told the Times of India.
The Congress leader, who is considered close to United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, said he was 'not interested' in the 'figures of encounters and body counts of Naxals' but in 'dialogue' with all stakeholders.
Sonia Gandhi headed the National Advisory Council or the “super cabinet” during the UPA rule, and some of its members were accused of being sympathetic to the Maoists and advocated a softer approach to deal with the issue.
The Chief Minister, the Times of India said in the same report, believes that the three-decades-old Maoist insurgency is a “socio-economic and political issue”.
“...the [Chhattisgarh] CM said it would be a mistake to assume that deployment of more forces, intensifying encounters and counting of bodies are indications of successfully countering the rebel problem,” the report says.
Baghel said he would initiate a dialogue on the issue “with the affected people”. “Intellectuals” and “right activists” are among those who have been affected by the conflict, the Chief Minister added.
“Bastar's original nature is to live independently and its people prefer to live in the lap of nature, without any hassles. But the situation has completely changed now and suspicion and fear has crept into the minds of locals,” Baghel told TOI.
In what was seen as an effort to play down the disastrous effects of left-wing terror in the state, especially in the Bastar division, the Chief Minister had said in August 2019 that malnutrition was a bigger threat than the Maoists.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.