Opposition pledges joint strategy against CAA and NRC

By Kushal Jeena. Dated: 1/18/2020 4:47:47 PM

As the anti-CAA, NPR movement continues to gain momentum, there seems a realization among the masses that the real issue facing India was the collapse of economic activity and slowing growth and development affecting all sections of society, especially the poor and disadvantaged and the government of the day instead of addressing the real issues has been indulging in raking up emotive issues to divert the attention of people.

Determined to take on the ruling NDA government on the contentious twin issues of new citizen amendment act and proposed national register of citizens, a block of twenty opposition parties pledged to work in tandem and have evolved a joint strategy to mount pressure on the government for the rollback of act that has brought entire nation to a boil with big protests being held all over.
The opposition's move is aimed at side lining the government as it appealed to the 13 states that are opposed to the CAA and NRC to say no to the National Population Register also because it is a prelude to the NRC. On the other hand, the BJP dismissed the opposition demand saying the resolution passed at the meeting has brought cheers in Pakistan.
The Opposition parties had in a meeting held early this week passed a resolution demanding immediate withdrawal of CAA and NRC. The meeting also decided to evolve a joint strategy on CAA-NRC. Six major Opposition parties, however, skipped the meet. The SP, BSP, AAP, Trinamul Congress, Shiv Sena and DMK were conspicuous by their absence. But Congress that led the opposition bandwagon said there was some "communication gap" with parties like Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party, others said the parties were absent mostly because of local issues.
The meeting also witnessed strains in the opposition rank and file with DMK, a key ally of the ruling UPA was absence in the wake of the raw deal allegedly meted out to the Tamil Nadu Congress in the recent rural local bodies elections. The opposition leader M.K. Stalin kept away from the high-profile allies' meeting convened.
"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. The CAA, NPR and NRC are nothing but a package that is unconstitutional, which specifically targets the poor, the downtrodden, the SC/STs and the linguistic and religious minorities. The NPR is the basis for the NRC. We demand the withdrawal of the CAA and the immediate stoppage of the nationwide NRC/NPR," the resolution said.
In the aftermath of the passage of the contentious new citizen amendment act by the parliament, people cutting across political, caste and religious considerations have come out on the streets staging peaceful protests against the act. The series of protests that began from big cities have now turned into a full-fledged people's movement as it has spread over to small towns and India's vast hinterland.
"The BJP-led government has let loose a reign of oppression, spreading hatred and trying to divide people along sectarian lines and asserted that there was "unprecedented turmoil" in the country. 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. 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 President said.
As the anti-CAA, NPR movement continues to gain momentum, there seems a realization among the masses that the real issue facing India was the collapse of economic activity and slowing growth and development affecting all sections of society, especially the poor and disadvantaged and the government of the day instead of addressing the real issues has been indulging in raking up emotive issues to divert the attention of people.
"Opposition resolution must have made Pakistan happy. The CAA is a chance to expose barbaric treatment of minorities in Pakistan. The six parties skipping the meet exposed the myth of Opposition unity," said union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while reacting to opposition party resolution.
Even though the legality of boycotting the NPR by states was not clear and the resolution adopted was a political one, it was done with the hope that the pressure works on the government and it withdraws the CAA. The meeting of the opposition parties also assumes significance as it also decided to mark three dates this month - January 23, 26 and 30 - as part of the its anti-CAA and NRC protests.
The BSP, SP, AAP, TMC, DMK and Shiv Sena stayed away from the opposition meet. The BSP chief Mayawati said the meeting would "demoralise" her party workers, AAP and Sena said they had not received an invitation. Mayawati was unhappy with the Congress because all of her party's legislators in Rajasthan had crossed over to the ruling Congress party. She, however, made it clear that the BSP was opposed to the CAA and echoed the opposition's demand for its withdrawal.
The confrontation between the government and the opposition has widened since the opposition parties called on President Ram Nath Kovind last month seeking his intervention on the issue of violence in central universities against the amended Citizenship law, the BSP had not joined them then. However, a parliamentary delegation of the BSP, however, had met Kovind on December separately on December18 to take up the issue.
The Congress said it has invited all like-minded parties to attend a meeting to formalise a joint strategy on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), as protests against the new citizenship law continue across the country. The absence of six major opposition parties from the meeting also reflects the lack of unity within the opposition that in any way will suit the government inside the parliament that meets for budget session at the end of this month. The ruling side will certainly take advantage of this shortcoming within the opposition rank and file as and when it requires.
The meeting called in the backdrop of ongoing nationwide protests is possibly the first high-level Opposition meeting after the general elections held in 2019. The gathering of the different political parties is significant. They tried to show that even if they are numerically down in front of the BJP-led NDA in Parliament, they are coming together as an opposition bloc to throw a challenge to the BJP. The success of the opposition meeting lies in the efforts that should be made by none other than Sonia Gandhi to rope in all those opposition leaders who have voiced their opposition to the controversial act but stayed away from the meeting. They should be convinced about the Urgency and necessity of their active participation in the opposition campaign.
The government has formally notified the new Citizen (Amendment) Act on January 10, a month after Parliament cleared the bill. But opposition said that it would not affect their stand on the issue. So far, the protests against CAA and NRC had been more spontaneous in nature and led by common people. The Opposition parties are now working on taking the countrywide protests forward so as take it to its logical end.
— [IFS]

 

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