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"Revenge Will Be Our Only Compensation"

P. Chidambaram, Bal Thackeray, Arun Jaitly, Madan Lal Khurana and many more on what should be done.

"Revenge Will Be Our Only Compensation"
Everybody—both the ruling alliance and the Opposition parties—are unanimous in their tough-talking against those responsible for the dastardly attack on India's Parliament. But all that is mostly about saving the appearances. As Indian political parties fight their own little proxy wars on the old question of crossing the LoC, they present a less than cohesive front.

P. Chidambaram Tamil Maanila Congress (Democratic)
This is not the time to say that we should take a hard or soft line. It’s clearly time for hard intellect. The fact is that the government has lost complete control of its own intelligence apparatus. For almost one month now, the government itself has been saying that it anticipates an attack on Parliament. Even the prime minister goes to Mumbai and says that Parliament is a likely target—and within 16 hours it is actually attacked. Despite such uncomfortable facts, the government is trying very hard to not admit that it was an intelligence failure. If the information was available, why was it not acted upon? The need of the hour is to completely revamp the intelligence set-up and put in place ways to set to work on hard intelligence before talking of formulating a hard or soft response. This is the problem with this government: they are simply reacting to events. They do not have a strategy for prevention or pre-emption.

Bal Thackeray Shiv Sena
Revenge is the only compensation for this attack. Condemnation has become our favourite response. Everytime there’s an attack, we condemn it. We say it is a warning to us. It doesn’t seem as if anyone has kept a count of the number of warnings India has been given. The question is, does the government have the ability to take revenge? Whether it is Pakistan, Taliban or the isi: they shouldn’t have the guts to attack us again. Wherever Bangladeshis have squeezed in, they should be kicked out in 48 hours. Wherever there are mini-Pakistans, there should be ruthless combing operations.

Somnath Chatterjee CPI(M)
What we need is a more alert government with a better administrative will. The PM and home minister had been talking about the perceived threat. Had adequate precautions been taken, this incident wouldn’t have occurred. It’s the total failure of the government that innocent lives have been lost. Now one hears some voices saying we must cross the LoC. It is very easy to say that. Afghanistan has been devastated and destroyed but the terrorists have still not learnt a lesson. There is no point going around killing innocent people. Subjugation and bombardment is not the answer. "

S. Jaipal Reddy Congress
It is a very fluid situation. We would not like to respond to a hypothetical situation of crossing the LoC to strike at terrorist camps, as many seem to be demanding. What happened in Parliament is, of course, terrible beyond imagination—the militants were trying to wipe out the entire political leadership of India in one swift blow. As for POTO, our position is very clear. I see no reason for the Congress party to change its stand on that legislation which we believe does not have adequate democratic safeguards. Besides, POTO was already in effect for many weeks when this attack took place. What deterrent effect did it have anyway?

Prakash Karat CPI(M)
Let us not indulge loosely in war-mongering. The immediate temptation for the BJP is to justify POTO. But it should be clear that it can’t steamroll a legislation that will undermine our democratic traditions. The attack on Parliament is a crime against humanity, it’s strongly condemned by all of us. But the solution is not to rush through such legislation. The government has to seek a political solution to the Kashmir problem. It has to address terrorism’s roots. At some point, we’ll also have to talk to Pakistan. Also, if our armed forces are to fight terrorism, they can’t be undermined by political corruption.

Vijay Goel BJP
Already, the prime minister has strongly condemned this act of brazen terror and the home minister has also said he accepts the challenge posed by terrorism. This implies that we are all ready to take a hard stand. But let me tell you, it will certainly not be a decision taken in 24 hours. I think our first priority will be to find out who is behind all this. One must remember that this is an attack on our much-cherished democratic system and way of life, and the government will leave no stone unturned to strike a tough posture against the perpetrators of terrorism.

Amar Singh Samajwadi Party
The government should consult the Opposition about what to do next. This is a matter of great national security. The PM must, therefore, realise that his government can’t afford to ignore the Opposition on this as they did on POTO. If the government can convince us that quick, surgical strikes at militant training camps in Pakistan is the only way to tackle the terrorist threat, then we will support it. We are true nationalists unlike the BJP which merely wants to use this attack to create communal polarisation. The BJP’s proactive policy is a joke, though some people are seeing this as a political opportunity for the BJP.

Renuka Chowdhury Congress
The Congress does not wish to give the government any direction. We are giving them a long rope. Let’s see whether they acquit themselves or hang themselves. From what I can make out, the government has no clarity about what to do. The same thing happened during the Kargil war. They sit and wait for things to happen and then deal with it. It’s very sad the way they conduct themselves. The Congress may not be asking questions now, but if the government fails to deliver we will definitely interrogate them. It needs to undertake a project to inspire national confidence.

Salman Khursheed Congress
We have to tell the US that Afghanistan is no longer a priority. Now they’ve to tell us what they intend to do about cross-border terrorism. About crossing the LoC, well, you have to put your own house in order first. This is not like the US where an exclusively external threat affected their interests. Here, an external threat is trying to ride on the discontent of our own young people. We have to deal with both. The one thing the government shouldn’t do is push POTO. It’s a question of intelligence, infrastructure and competence.

Vijay Kumar Malhotra BJP
The government must show that India is no soft state. We believe the government should now adopt a proactive policy of hot pursuit and attack training camps of terrorists across the border in Pakistan, particularly in PoK, and destroy them. That will teach these troublemakers and purveyors of mindless violence a lesson and underscore the fact that the government’s might can neither be trifled with nor be challenged in so defiant a fashion. This is certainly no time to talk about restraint. After this assault on our very symbol of democracy, we have to act decisively.

Arun Jaitley BJP
The option of quick strikes with surgical precision on Pakistan-based terrorist camps depends on various factors. It is not something that can be done in a haste. And it is not something that any one in the government can publicly speculate about. But it’s clear that we need to dramatically strengthen our intelligence network. The time has also come for our security forces to send a chilling message to the terrorists and those who harbour them. Those who say that POTO stands exposed after this attack should know that the ordinance applies to the legal battle against terrorism, not its security aspect.

Pramod Mahajan BJP
I don’t think there is any doubt that terrorism in India is sponsored by our neighbour Pakistan. We must note that in his condolence message to India, Chief Executive and President Pervez Musharraf referred to the militants as "armed intruders". Even after this kind of an assault at the heart of Indian democracy, the Pakistani leader was reluctant to describe the perpetrators as terrorists or militants. Both the prime minister and the home minister have already emphasised on the need to deal strongly with terrorism in all its forms. We also cannot ignore Pakistan’s duplicity.

Madan Lal Khurana BJP
It’s high time we acted in order to dispel the rather predominant impression, among the international community, that India is a soft state. In my opinion, we should immediately take a hard line. But it’s the Union government which has to decide whether that means crossing the LoC and directly attacking terrorist bases in Pakistan. An individual cannot formulate the government’s response, even if he belongs to the ruling party. So, don’t ask me about the nature of specific actions that ought to be taken.

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