Negotiating with terrorists is a bad bargain. Now write it a hundred times.
The Andhra Pradesh state government made a great deal of hot air out of negotiations; the Naxalite terrorists took the opportunity to regroup, consolidate and rest. They just announced that that armed struggle is really their true calling, while the government can eat crow.
Within hours of the announcement, the Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, appealed to the Naxalites to reconsider their decision since the Government remained committed to continuing the peace talks. Talking to reporters, he urged them to view the recent encounters as “unfortunate incidents.”
He assured that there would not be combing operations nor any repression. Asserting that the police have been instructed to avoid excesses, he said the Maoists should also see that there was no loss of life or destruction of property. [Hindu]
The sight of a duly elected government making such entreaties to a bunch of terrorists and criminals is not pretty; and evidence that the Andhra Pradesh government has not learned the right lesson.
The Congress-party may have come to power due to a pre-election deal with forces close to the Naxalites. But politicians are known to break promises and alliances: it would do well to reassess its Faustian bargain with the Naxalites. In the first place, given that the Naxalite threat is spread across several states, there was very little sense in just Andhra Pradesh striking a peace deal with them. Now that even that deal has unravelled, the Central government must take the initiative. A robust, coordinated operation against the Naxalites is called for, but it may be a long time before the Manmohan Singh government can muster up sufficient will.