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Opposition parties discuss anti-CAA protests, violence on campuses

Significantly, the BSP, the AAP and the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC stayed away from the meeting attended by representatives of 20 parties in all.

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Oppositions Party Meet

New Delhi, Jan 13 : A meeting of Opposition parties convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday deliberated on the current political situation following widespread protests against the amended Citizenship Act and the violence on campuses.

Significantly, the BSP, the AAP and the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC stayed away from the meeting attended by representatives of 20 parties in all.

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.

Oppositions Party Meet
Oppositions Party Meet

Sources said top opposition leaders have already held discussions among themselves and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad is leading the efforts.

The opposition is seeking to win over the youth and the students by supporting their protests against the amended citizenship law and any National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The sources said the Congress and other parties are seeking to take the students’ movement forward and have lent support to their cause.

Last week, Sonia Gandhi had termed the CAA as a “discriminatory and divisive” law whose “sinister” purpose was to divide people on religious lines, and asserted that the NPR (National Population Register) in form and content was “disguised NRC (National Register of Citizens)”.

The joint opposition move also assumes significance as it comes soon after Delhi Assembly election dates have been announced.

Elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on February 8 and results will be declared on February 11.

The last time a majority of opposition leaders got together was at the swearing-in of Hemant Soren as Jharkhand chief minister.

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CAA-NPR: Congress parliamentary strategy group to meet on Monday

The Rajasthan Assembly has passed a resolution against the NPR, which has also been challenged in the courts.

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Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Jan 26: Ahead of the Budget Session of the Parliament, the Congress’ strategy group will meet at interim chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence here on Monday to discuss the party strategy in the session.

The party has also called an opposition meet on January 30 to devise joint strategy against the government. The party has taken on the government on the issue of CAA and NPR. The Rajasthan Assembly has passed a resolution against the NPR, which has also been challenged in the courts.

The Congress hopes for more strength in Lok Sabha now with the Shiv Sena joining ranks with the party. While the Sena has taken different position during the CAA debate, the party hopes that that it will help to corner the NDA government on issues of unemployment and economic distress.

The Congress has also lined up several public meetings with former chief Rahul Gandhi addressing a rally against the CAA in Jaipur on January 28 and in his parliamentary constituency, Kerala’s Wayanad, on January 30.

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Bhima Koregaon Case: Tussle brews between Maharashtra, Centre

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Bhima-Koregaon violence

A day after Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar raised serious doubts over the 2018 Elgar Parishad/Koregaon-Bhima investigations, the Centre swiftly moved against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and transferred the probe into the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Crying foul, the NCP-Congress attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government “for exceeding its brief for sheer political reasons” over the issue.

A piqued Pawar accused the BJP of harbouring “an acute fear” of being disrobed in the Koregaon-Bhima-Elgar Parishad case and chose to post-haste hand it over to the NIA.

He reiterated his demand for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct an in-depth independent investigation to “unravel the truth” over the Pune Police’s probe into the case.

“Prima facie, it seems they (Pune Police) misused their power. The NIA may have taken over the probe, but it is necessary for the state government to investigate lapses by Pune Police or whether they misused powers to frame the activists,” Pawar said.

Locking horns with the Centre, he said the fresh probe was necessary as the move to hand over the case to NIA has “aroused suspicions”, and it may have apprehended that the re-investigation could expose the former BJP state government and its hand-picked officials in the matter.

“In no way can it be said that all those who take up cudgels against injustice and atrocities by the government are naxalites, as in this case,” Pawar pointed out.

Interestingly, the Centre’s abrupt move came a day after Pawar wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and hours after Deputy CM Ajit Pawar on Friday held a meeting to review the case status and charge-sheets filed by Pune Police.

State Home Minister (NCP) Anil Deshmukh slammed the Centre saying they were scared of a fresh probe contemplated by the MVA government as it could nail the previous BJP-led regime for messing up the original investigations.

“We shall seek legal opinion in the matter before launching a fresh investigation,” said Deshmukh.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the move saying it was part of “MOSH (Modi-Shah) agenda of hate”.

“Anyone who opposed the MOSH agenda of hate is an ‘Urban Naxal’. Koregaon-Bhima is a symbol of resistance that the government’s NIA stooges can never erase,” Gandhi said in a sharp tweet.

Pawar had questioned the manner in which Pune Police probed it and claimed that the previous BJP-regime had “vengefully” implicated several Dalit and rights activists in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon-Bhima cases, based on “trumped up” charges.

After the MVA government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress took office on Nov. 28, there was a change in perception of the cases lodged during the previous government.

Nevertheless, caught unawares by the Centre’s move, shortly before midnight on Friday, Deshmukh condemned the decision “to transfer the probe to NIA without any consent of the Maharashtra government.”

The NCP-Congress appear firm on setting up an SIT to re-look at the high-profile and sensitive case which could bring out skeletons of the former BJP-regime and its investigators, prompting the Centre to hastily shift it to NIA.

Pawar contended that many prominent personalities and legal luminaries such as former Supreme Court Judge P.B. Sawant, former Bombay High Court Judge B.G. Kolse-Patil and others have raised objections to the manner in which the case was probed by Pune Police in which activists were arrested from different parts of India and branded ‘urban Naxals’.

The NCP chief pointed out that the then CM Fadnavis had not described those arrested activists as ‘urban Naxals’ and emphasised that the cases registered against them are not based on facts.

On Dec. 31, 2017, a large Elgar Parishad was organised in Pune’s Shaniwar Wada which was addressed by top leaders of Lefits, social and Dalit intellectual, the Kabir Kala Manch, the banned CPI (Maoist), its frontal organisations and others which allegedly triggered the violence the next day in Koregaon-Bhima.

On Jan. 1, 2018, caste riots erupted when over 100,000 Dalits converged to celebrate the historic Jan. 1, 1818 victory of a small 800-strong force of the Mahar caste of the Bombay Native Infantry of the British East India Company over a battalion of the huge 28,000-strong army of the Peshwa Bajirao II in Koregaon-Bhima after a 12-hour battle.

The two incidents proved to be a watershed in the state’s recent political history and a chasm developed as the then BJP-led government went hammer-and-tongs after the Leftist groups and their leaders.

Later during June and August 2018, many prominent Dalit and Leftist activists and intellectuals were arrested in a nationwide swoop by Pune Police.

They included: Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut — all nabbed in June 2018 — and charged with links to Maoist groups.

Subsequently in August 2018, Pune Police arrested P. Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha on similar charges, besides naming others such as Milind Teltumbde, Rituparn Goswami, Prashanto Bose, as “underground, absconded and wanted accused” in the case.

It was the Pune Police’s contention that these persons/groups supported, funded and organized the Elgar Parishad as part of a larger conspiracy to create social and political unrest in the country, assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wage a war against the country and overthrow the democratically-elected government.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

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Anyone against Modi-Shah agenda is urban naxal: Rahul

In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi said, “Anyone who opposes the MOSH agenda of hate is an ‘Urban Naxal’. Bhima-Koregaon is a symbol of resistance that the government’s NIA stooges can never erase.”

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Jan 25: Describing Bhima Koregaon as a symbol of resistance, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday slammed the BJP government at the Centre, saying anyone who opposes Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah’s “agenda of hate are urban naxals”.

Rahul’s remarks came a day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday took over investigation from the Maharashtra Police to probe the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon violence. The NIA move came a day after the Maharashtra government held a review meeting with senior Pune police officers to take a call on pursuing the matter.

In a tweet, Rahul Gandhi said, “Anyone who opposes the MOSH agenda of hate is an ‘Urban Naxal’. Bhima-Koregaon is a symbol of resistance that the government’s NIA stooges can never erase.”

The Centre’s decision has triggered another confrontation with the Uddhav Thackeray government as it was in the process to withdraw all cases against intellectuals and social activists accused of inciting the clashes.

On Friday, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said in a tweet, “I strongly condemn the decision to transfer the investigation of ‘Koregaon-Bhima’ case to NIA, by the Central Government without any consent of Maharashtra government.”

The case refers to violence that erupted near Koregaon-Bhima in Pune district on January 1, 2018 at a time when the Dalits were celebrating 200 years of a British-era battle.

The Pune police had filed cases against social activists and intellectuals who gave speeches at Elgar Parishad, a gathering held on December 31, 2017, a day before the celebrations.

The police had accused the intellectuals and social activists of inciting the violence. Several activists were subsequently picked up in raids conducted across the country.

The state police had then claimed that the organisers of the gathering have Maoist links.

Meanwhile, critics have accused the Central government of jailing activists opposed to its ideology and branding them as urban Naxals”.

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