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Opposition to mount protests over CAA/NRC, economic crisis

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2020 Published on January 13, 2020

(From left) Congress President Sonia Gandhi with party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, CPI leader D Raja, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi President Thol Thirumavalavan after the Opposition party meeting at the Parliament Library in New Delhi, on Monday   -  RV Moorthy

DMK, TMC, SP, BSP keep off meeting

About 20 Opposition parties have decided to hit the streets jointly against the Centre’s economic policies as well as against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). A joint meeting of the Opposition parties convened by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi urged people to observe January 23 (birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose), January 26 (Republic Day) and January 30 (martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi) as days to uphold constitutional values. Prominent Opposition parties, such as the Trinamool Congress, DMK, SP and BSP, however, did not attend the meeting. The Congress claimed the support of those parties in their agitations.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi said he had a discussion with senior Opposition leaders. “The main discussion centred around the mood in the country. The fact that thousands and thousands students across the country, all religions, and communities have come out. There is a feeling of anger and fear in the minds of our students, weaker sections and farmers. The reason this fear exists is there is a complete failure on the economic front and on the employment front,” he said.

The Wayanad MP said India has lost key opportunities. “We are busy discussing everything except the main issue, which is joblessness and our economic strength. This is being destroyed by Narendra Modi — demonetisation part-I and part-II,” he said.

He added that the Prime Minister, instead of approaching students and telling them about his plans to generate employment, is dividing the nation and distracting the attention of people.

“This is not going to help our country. Modi should stand up and have the courage to speak to the youngsters in these universities and tell them why the Indian economy has become a disaster. Why it has become a basket case and why we have the highest unemployment in 50 years. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister does not have the guts to do this. He does not have the guts to stand in front of the students of this country and tell them, so he crushes them using the police,” he said, challenging the PM to go to any university and tell the people what he is going to do for this country.

In her inaugural remarks, Sonia said there is an unprecedented turmoil in the country today. “The Constitution is being undermined and the instruments of governance are being misused. Students and the youth have in particular been targeted. In several parts of the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh, large sections of the population are being harassed and attacked,” she said.

‘Totally exposed’

She said the “Modi-Shah government” stands totally exposed for its inability to govern and provide security to the people. “The NRC seems to have backfired in Assam. The Modi-Shah government is now focussing on the 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 nationwide NRC,” she said .She further argued that the real issue facing the country today is the collapse of economic activity, and slowing growth and development affecting all sections of society, especially the poor.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Opposition parties have decided to hold joint programmes against the CAA and NRC. He said the meeting expressed grave concerns at the alarming deterioration in the livelihood status of the vast majority of people due to the complete mismanagement of the Indian economy. “The economic crisis has pushed the economy to the verge of a recession, with a record fall in GDP, unemployment levels at the highest in half a century, agrarian distress deepening with rising farmers’ suicides, massive closures and lay offs in industrial units accompanied by rising prices of petroleum products, cooking gas, vegetables and all essential commodities, making people’s lives more miserable. The Modi government has created an economic disaster,” he said.

The meeting demanded the withdrawal of the CAA and the immediate stoppage of the nationwide NRC/NPR. “All the Chief Ministers who have announced that they will not implement NRC in their State must consider suspending NPR enumeration as that is a prelude to NRC. Peaceful multi-religious, popular protests against the CAA, NRC and NPR have erupted all over the country. We stand in solidarity with all such peaceful protests to safeguard the Indian Constitution,” a resolution passed at the meeting said.

Justifying her absence, BSP supremo Mayawati said the Congress, despite getting BSP support in Rajasthan, poached all her party MLAs. She said the BSP attending the Opposition party meeting convened by the Congress would demoralise the party’s workers in that State.

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Published on January 13, 2020
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