New Delhi: Chief Ministers of non-Congress and BJP-ruled states and a Congress ally on Friday raised a banner of revolt against the Centre's proposal to set up an apex counter-terror organisation, saying it struck at the roots of federalism and usurp states' powers.

However, the Union government rejected all criticism and expressed its determination to go ahead with setting up of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a brain-child of Home Minister P Chidambaram.
The protest was initiated by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who wrote to his counterparts in West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Bihar (Nitish Kumar) and Tamil Nadu (J Jayalalitha) and to TDP chief and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
First to respond was Congress ally Banerjee, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to "review and withdraw" the decision.
Expressing concern that the NCTC would infringe on the federal rights of states, Banerjee had said, "It is difficult for the state government to accept such arbitrary exercise of power by the Central Government/central agency, which have a bearing on the rights and privilege of the states as enshrined in the Constitution of India".
Next to write was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who said the proposed body suffered from 'deficiencies' and has provisions that tantamount to usurping the legitimate rights of the states.
"I share the concerns of other state Chief Ministers who have expressed reservations against the attitude of certain Ministries in the Government of India acting in a high handed manner without due consultation with the States," she said in her letter to Singh.

Taking strong objections to certain provisions of the NCTC such as power to arrest, search and set up inter-State Intelligence Support teams, Jayalalithaa said they 'smack of a tendency to abrogate power with no attendant responsibility.'

BJP Chief Ministers Narendra Modi (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh) and Prem Kumar Dhumal (Himachal Pradesh) also joined the chorus of protest against the Centre's move.
Modi, in his letter to the Prime Minister, said the notification constituting the NCTC is a clear violation of the provisions of federal structure and an attack on the rights of states.
Demanding annulling of the order with immediate effect, he said the order putting all the intelligence agencies under NCTC will adversely affect the rights given to the states for the maintenance of law and order.
Echoing his views, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said it was an unnecessary interference on the rights of states.
"It is a serious setback on country's federal structure," Chauhan said.
Dhumal said "it is another attempt to usurp the powers of the states".
In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Odisha Chief Minister opposed the powers given to the newly constituted NCTC.
He also described the notification issued by the Home Ministry as "draconian."

Patnaik, who demanded consultation with the states by the Centre on the issue, said "my concern is the authoritarian notification with draconian overtones about law and order among others in which the state governments have not been consulted".


TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu also said he had written a letter to the Prime Minister protesting the Centre's move to set up the NCTC.
"It is very unfortunate. Ours is a federal structure. Without consulting political parties, state governments and without debate in Parliament, unilaterally they have taken a decision. This is not good. It is a setback for federalism," he said.

No need to consult states on NCTC:Centre

Dismissing the criticism of non Congress Chief Ministers and BJP ruled states, the UPA government on Friday said that the proposed body will not infringe upon the powers of states and is in the interest of the nation.

“The anti-terror body is planned in the national interest and will in no manner breach the federal structure. There was no need to consult the states prior to notification of the NCTC as it was being established under the existing laws,” Union Home Secretary RK Singh asserted.

Echoing similar views, minister of state in the PMO, V Narayanswamy said, “The issue is being hyped and must not be highlighted. The Prime Minister and Home Minister are addressing the issue and an amicable solution will come out.”

“Terrorism has emerged as serious threat for the global community. In such a condition a sound anti-terror body is need of the hour. NCTC has been constituted under the

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which has been in force for several years under which the security agencies were operating,” Singh said.

He further said that the sole aim of the proposed body is to strengthen and improve coordination among security agencies to fight terror better.
Congress launches counter-offensive

Congress sought to turn the table on Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and others on the NCTC issue pointing out that some of them were part of the NDA which had passed the controversial POTA in 2002.

"If we recall and rewind, there were several partners in the NDA government when draconian laws were passed. A lot of these people were associated when these draconian laws were framed," party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters.

Her comments came a day after Mamata Banerjee shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding "review and withdrawal" of the order on the organisation, function, power and duties of the newly-constituted National Counter Terrorism Centre.

In her letter to the Prime Minister that was issued by Odisha Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik's office in Bhubaneshwar, Banerjee expressed concern over alleged infringement of federal rights of states. Both Trinamool and BJD were in NDA in 2002.

Chowdhary also talked of "collective responsibility" to tackle terror.

"It is time for us to think conscientiously and work collectively. We are looking at national terror. I do not think we can make any compromise," she said backing the government's move on NCTC, a brainchild of Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Another party spokesperson Manish Tewari also traced the genesis of NCTC to NDA rule saying the measure is really an improvement of the multi-agency centre that had come up as a result of the recommendation made by the GoM set up during the NDA government.

"All those who are crying hoarse or shedding crocodile tears on terrorism needs to look at the genesis of how the multi-agency centre came into existence and how it has evolved into NCTC," he said.

Renuka Chowdhary also reminded the parties opposing NCTC on the plea that it undermines federalism that "when we demand federal rights, the responsibility also comes along with. When there is the issue of national terror, there can be no compromise....there is no dispute on collective responsibility to tackle terror".

The Congress spokesperson sidestepped questions whether Mamata Banerjee's move was being seen as an unfriendly act or whether she was the conscience keeper of UPA or has already become a part of the Opposition.

"We always see her as an ally...We have no quarrel with her. We understand and appreciate her compulsions in the state government," said Chowdhary to a volley of questions.

Asked whether Congress sees Banerjee moving towards some other political alignments, including the Third Front, in the wake of the fact that her letter was sent from the Orissa Chief Minister's office, she said "it is part of the democratic process if one Chief Minister talks to some other Chief Minister to form a pressure group."

She said Congress does not want to read anything else when asked whether Banerjee is challenging the UPA government.

Asked whether Congress' hands are tied due to coalition compulsions, Chowdhary said "being a major partner, we will talk with tolerance. It is our responsibility to convince our allies."

She also downplayed the issue of Trinamool Congress union minister Sultan Ahmed approaching the Election Commission against union minister Beni Prasad Verma's minority subquota remarks.

"Not really. There is nothing friendly or non-friendly in it....these are warps and wafts of democracy. It happens," Chowdary said adding it is well within the right of a party to approach the EC if thinks some code is being violated.