At the Opposition meet in New Delhi on Monday, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, accusing them of "misleading the public" on the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens and said their dispensation stands "totally exposed" for its inability to govern and provide security to people.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, JMM leader and Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, LJD chief Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Upendra Kushwaha, RJD leader Manoj Jha, National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi, besides Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and former prime minister Manmohan Singh were among those present at the meeting.
Six major parties keep away
The meeting, convened by the Congress, saw chinks in the opposition ranks with leaders of about 20 political parties attending it but six major parties — DMK, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Shiv Sena — choosing to stay away from the meeting convened by Sonia, during which leaders of 20 parties deliberated on the political situation in the country, following widespread protests against the amended Citizenship Act and the violence on campuses.
In a series of tweets Monday morning, BSP supremo Mayawati explained her reasons for skipping the meet. "As is well known that despite the BSP support to the Congress-led Rajasthan government from outside, it has been for the second time that BSP MLAs have been made to join their party which is completely wrong," Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi. "Under such circumstances, the BSP attending the Opposition meeting today under the leadership of the Congress will be demoralising for party workers in Rajasthan. Therefore, the BSP will not attend this meeting," she added.
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, speaking to ANI, said his party would not be attending as they were not informed about it. "We have no information about any such meeting. So, makes no sense to attend a meeting we have no information about it," Singh told ANI. Mamata had last week said she would boycott the Opposition's anti-CAA meeting to protest the violence unleashed in the state allegedly by Left Front and Congress workers during a trade union strike. Mamata said "double standards" of the Left Front and Congress will not be tolerated.
'Withdraw CAA, stop NRC/NPR'
The Opposition parties adopted a resolution demanding that the Act be withdrawn and the NPR process immediately stopped, claiming it is part of an "unconstitutional package" that targeted poor people, SC/STs and minorities. "The CAA, NPR and NRC is a package that is unconstitutional, which specifically targets the poor, the downtrodden, the SC/STs and the linguistic and religious minorities," the resolution adopted by the parties said.
"The NPR is the basis for the NRC. We demand the withdrawal of the CAA and the immediate stoppage of the nationwide NRC/NPR," it added. Those chief ministers who have announced that they will not implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in their states must consider to suspend the National Population Register (NPR) enumeration also as it is a prelude to the NRC, it said.
Asserting that there was "unprecedented turmoil" in the country, Sonia said the government has let loose a reign of oppression, spreading hatred and trying to divide people along sectarian lines. "The nation has watched in horror at the BJP-orchestrated assault on JNU coming so soon after what happened in Jamia (Millia Islamia), BHU (Banaras Hindu University), Allahabad University and AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) and other institutions of higher learning in other parts of the country," she said, urging Opposition parties to work together and thwart the designs of the government.
The Modi-Shah government stands totally exposed for its inability to govern and to provide security to people, Sonia alleged. There have been nation-wide spontaneous protests by youths supported by citizens from all walks of life, she said. "The immediate cause is the CAA and NRC but they reflect widespread frustration and pent up anger, which is now out in the open. The response of the police in UP and Delhi has been shockingly partisan and brutal," the Congress chief said.
"The prime minister and the home minister have misled people. They have contradicted their own statements of only weeks ago, and continue with their provocative statements while remaining insensitive to the state suppression and violence that is increasingly becoming commonplace," she said. The Constitution is being undermined and the instruments of governance are being misused, Sonia alleged.
Students and the young have in particular been targeted and in several parts of the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh, large sections of the population are being harassed and attacked, Sonia said. Asserting that the NRC seems to have back-fired in Assam, Sonia said the Modi-Shah government is now focusing on NPR (National Population Register) exercise that is scheduled to begin in a few months.
"Contrary to the assertions of the home minister, it is clear that this is being done to lead to a nation-wide NRC," Sonia said. The real issue facing India today is the collapse of economic activity and slowing growth and development, affecting all sections of society, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, the Congress president said. "The prime minister and the home minister have no answers and want to divert the nation's attention from this grim reality by raising one divisive and polarizing issue after another," she alleged.
'Must have made Pakistan happy'
The Opposition's resolution against the amended citizenship law must have made Pakistan happy, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Monday, while asserting that the legislation was a chance to expose Islamabad's "barbaric treatment" of minorities. He also said the Opposition ended up "unnecessarily" attacking the Modi government in the process. Taking a dig at the Opposition, the Union law minister said their unity stood "exposed".
"Opposition unity stands exposed as major parties like SP, BSP, TMC and AAP kept away. The resolution is neither in national interest nor in the interest of security. It is also not in the interest of those minorities who fled neighbouring countries to escape persecution," Prasad told reporters.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2020 22:04:01 IST