NEW DELHI: The new Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, said on Monday that the terror strikes in Mumbai were an attack on the “very soul and idea of India that we love which is secular, pluralist, tolerant and open.”
Talking to journalists soon after assuming charge of the Home Ministry, Mr. Chidambaram asserted that he had no doubt in his mind that the “idea of India will triumph with the help and support of the people of India.”
Reassuring the people on behalf of the government, the Minister asserted: “We will respond with determination and resolve to the grave threats posed to the Indian nation.”
Mr. Chidambaram said that he recognised that there was a sense of “anguish” among the people. “Like every one of you, I have heard [the] anguished voice of India over the last few days,” he said.
For Mr. Chidambaram, this is his second innings in the Home Ministry. He had served as Minister of State (Internal Security) during the tenure of the Rajiv Gandhi government that took office in 1984.
“I am older today. Whether I am wiser, it is for you to say...,” Mr. Chidambaram said
Referring to the decisions taken by the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and the all-party meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said there would be “unity of purpose” in dealing with the situation in the aftermath of the terror strikes in Mumbai.
“I particularly welcome the sense of purpose displayed at Sunday’s all-party meeting and the Prime Minister’s statement,” he said.
Politely turning down requests to answer questions, Mr. Chidambaram told journalists that it would take him a day or two to familiarise himself with the issues pending in the Home Ministry.
He replaced Shivraj Patil as Home Minister on Sunday as the UPA government, nearing the end of its five-year term, grappled with mounting criticism of Mr. Patil’s handling of the internal security situation.