Mamata, NDA slam communal violence bill
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress raises a red flag on the communal violence prevention bill and joins the NDA-led bandwagon in opposing the proposed legislation. United in opposition | There can be no let-up in our vigilance: PMdelhi Updated: Sep 11, 2011 03:13 IST
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress sprang another surprise on the Congress by raising a red flag on the communal violence prevention bill and joining the NDA-led bandwagon against the proposed legislation on Saturday.
A week after Banerjee embarrassed the UPA by refusing to accompany Singh to Dhaka, West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra said at the meeting, "Instead of bringing this bill, if any serious communal violence breaks out, the Centre should commit itself to cooperating and giving full support in handling such exigencies."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised later that all views expressed at the meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) would be taken into account by the government.
This was a shocker for the Congress brass. "The issue has been under discussion since the time of the UPA-I government. But the Trinamool has opposed it for the first time now," said a veteran minister, pointing out that the ally had earlier stalled the land acquisition amendment bill for almost two years.
In the Trinamool too, not many were aware of the party chief’s stand till Saturday. Sources close to her said she feels the Centre is trying to interfere in law and order — an exclusive domain of the state.
Union home secretary RK Singh later told reporters the PM had made it clear that the bill finalised by the government would be in consonance with the Constitution.
"A large number of chief ministers… said some aspects of the bill encroach on their jurisdiction. We will examine these views,” Singh said.
"The bill, when it is brought, will be in consonance with the Constitution and we won’t do anything that disturbs the federal structure. That the PM has said,” he added, pointing out that the states would be consulted before the bill is finalised.
The NDA and chief ministers of states governed by it — MP, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Punjab — also opposed the bill. They said it would stoke communal tension instead of reducing it as it seeks to divide the country into majority and minority communities.
Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the proposed legislation was “dangerous” as it harms the federal structure and would “encourage communalism”.
Her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley said the bill presumes the majority community is always responsible for communal riots. “This is a new jurisprudence that determines culpability in any offence by birthmark. It allows the Centre to hold all the powers. Moreover, it does not consider anybody a citizen and treats a person only as one belonging to either a majority or a minority.”