NEW DELHI: The meeting of opposition parties called by the Congress on January 13 to formalise a joint strategy on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has turned out to be show of disunity with many parties, including its allies in some states, staying away from the exercise.
While the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Trinamul Congress (TMC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) skipped the meeting citing differences with the Congress, the Aam Admi Party and Shiv Sena stayed away saying they had not received any invitation.
Mayawati said her party workers were upset after the Congress in Rajasthan indulged in ‘horse-trading’ by getting BSP MLAs to join their party. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped the meeting, accusing the Left Front and the Congress of playing “dirty politics” during the Bharat Bandh last Wednesday.
DMK chief M K Stalin did not say any reason openly for missing the meeting. However, Sources said that the party was angry due to remarks made by some local Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu.
The Sena, who is an ally of the Grand Old Party in Maharashtra, said that they did not receive any invitation to the meeting. Speaking on similar lines, senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the party had no information about the meeting.
The meeting, which was convened by interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was attended by leaders of opposition parties like NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, LJD chief Sharad Yadav, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja.
All senior Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Ahmed Patel and former prime minister Manmohan Singh was present at the meeting held in the Parliament complex.
Speaking at the meeting, Sonia Gandhi said the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led government stood exposed for its inability to govern and provide security to people in the wake of widespread protests against the amended Citizenship Act and the violence on campuses.
“The nation watched in horror at BJP-orchestrated assault on JNU coming so soon after what happened in Jamia, BHU, Allahabad University and AMU and other institutions of higher learning. Modi-Shah govt stands exposed for its inability to govern and provide security to people,” Gandhi was quoted by Indian Express as saying.
Gandhi said the government has let loose reign of oppression and is spreading hatred in order to divide people along sectarian lines. “There’s unprecedented turmoil. The constitution is being undermined and instruments of governance being misused,” she said.
Accusing the Prime Minister and Home Minister of misleading the nation on CAA and NRC, Gandhi said, “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 highlighted that CAA and NRC might be the immediate reasons for the recent protests but they reflect widespread frustration and pent up anger of the citizens which is now out in the open.
“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 disadvantaged. The Prime Minister and Home Minister have no answers and want to divert the nation’s attention from this grim reality by raising one divisive and polarising issue after another,” she said.
After the meeting, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the government is “dividing nation” to divert attention from the failing economy and challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go the universities and speak with the students on the state of economy and joblessness (with inputs from media reports).
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