CMs meeting may be extended to discuss NCTC

New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today indicated that the annual meeting of Chief Ministers on April 16 may be extended to discuss setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre(NCTC) as demanded by some of the non-Congress ruled states.

After presenting his ministry`s monthly report, Chidambaram told reporters that he welcomes a debate on the issue. "I am glad that there will be a debate and I sincerely hope that it will be a debate based on the Constitution, laws in force and the very healthy convention that has been built over the last 65 years," he said.

Asked about the letter written by UPA`s ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for devoting time for NCTC issue at the conference, the Home Minister said that he would soon get a copy of the same.

"Please remember that the Chief Ministers conference on internal security is an annual affair. It was initially convened for February 15, 2012. The NCTC question came up in March. The February 15 meeting was postponed because of the election and Parliament session to April 16.

"But I think it is important that all issues of the agenda are discussed. How we will accommodate the request of the Chief Ministers to devote a considerable amount of time to discuss the NCTC subject, it is a matter that will be resolved, I think, in the next couple of days," he said.

Asked whether there was a possibility of extending the day long meeting to two days, he said, "That will depend on the convenience of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers. But that is an option."

Besides Banerjee, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has also written a letter to the Prime Minister requesting for making NCTC the only agenda of the meeting on April 16. The two are among the non-Congress chief ministers who have opposed setting up of the NCTC.

To a question about the fate of notification issued by the Ministry under which the NCTC was to come operational on March one, Chidambaram said, "The notification is there and it is in the agenda. There is no contradiction because according to notification the NCTC was supposed to be operational from March 1.

"It says that the order will come into force, a Director will be appointed, three Joint Directors will be appointed and a standing council will be constituted.

"It is when a Director is appointed, the three Joint Directors are appointed and a standing council is constituted, there is an NCTC. Otherwise it is still an idea which has to be operationalised," he said.