Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted on Sunday that there has been no discussion on NRC in his government since it came to power in 2014 and accused the Opposition of spreading lies, the Congress hit back, pointing out that Home Minister Amit Shah spoke in Parliament about rollout of a nationwide NRC.
It said the Prime Minister should provide a “healing touch” and refrain from labelling those who are opposing the government’s policies.
The Congress, which has given the call for a sit-in protest at Raj Ghat on Monday in solidarity with the nationwide protests against the new citizenship law and the proposed NRC, asked the Prime Minister to convene a meeting of the National Integration Council to discuss contentious issues with Chief Ministers and forge a consensus.
Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters that the Opposition has not brought up the issue of NRC “out of a vacuum”.
He said it was Home Minister Shah who spoke about it in both Houses of Parliament and added that this has created an “environment of fear, insecurity and uncertainty” in the country. “And it is primarily the government which is responsible for that,” he said.
“Prime Minister should speak responsibly…The Government has created an atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty by passing the (citizenship) Bill in a hurry. So the blame for this should go to the Government. We had cautioned the government that it should strive to forge a consensus because the Bill has certain shortcomings and it is in conflict with the Constitution…there was no need for such a Bill…the existing are laws were enough..,” he said.
“This situation was created because Home Minister had said in both Houses of Parliament that the government will now bring a nationwide NRC. It was not the Congress or opposition parties which had said that….Students, citizens and social organisations belong to this country…they are not from any other country. In democracy, everyone has the right to express their views and protest,” Sharma added
“If the students have come out, they feel for the country…it is their future which is at stake…,” he said.
Sharma said the Prime Minister’s barbs at the Congress are in tune with his “familiar style”. “A situation of conflict arises only when they move away from the democratic traditions….their style of functioning is dictatorial. They have the majority but that does not mean that they will not listen to the minority…The basic issue is the country’s economy has been destroyed, the responsibility of its lies with the Prime Minister and the government,” he said.
“…they brought India, which was a very fast growing economy, which was a very robust economy to almost ruination…is the Prime Minister not supposed to talk about it? This labelling and name calling is not a responsible statement coming from the Prime Minister. In a democracy, the government takes decisions and if those decisions raise bone fide concerns and issues, the Opposition has a right to protest or raise the people’s concerns,” he said.
“Those who question the government or criticise them, they are being labelled…as if we are not Indians and national interest is not close to our hearts,” he said.