Oppn parties raise anti-CAA slogans during President’s address
President Ram Nath Kovind’s address at the joint session of the Parliament on the first day of the budget session met with sharp protests from opposition parties, with several members in both Houses raising slogans against the amended citizenship law and sporting black bands on their arms.
As a mark of protest, several opposition members including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, gave up their designated seats inside the Central Hall. Instead, they sat in the fifth row in one block along with party MPs Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and Benny Behnan. Several Congress MPs, including Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Gaurav Gogoi, were seen sporting black bands.
Senior party leader P Chidambaram took to Twitter, saying that the President did not talk about the economic slide in the country at all. “Sadly, there was not a word on the macro-economic situation. Not a word on lost jobs, increasing unemployment and rising consumer price inflation. Not a word on the closure of thousands of industries, especially in the SME sector,” he tweeted.
Trinamool Congress MPs showed placards during the President’s speech.
When Kovind spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act, opposition MPs raised slogans against the law, even as several members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, applauded the President by thumping their desks.
“In the times after Partition, Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had said that those Hindus and Sikhs who don’t want to stay in Pakistan, can come to India. It is the duty of the government of India to give them a normal life,” President Kovind said.
“I am happy that both Houses of Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to fulfil the dreams of those who built our country,” he said.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the opposition parties for disrupting the President’s address, calling their behavior “a complete breakdown of convention”.
The BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said the behaviour of the opposition members was “akin to what is happening in Shaheen Bagh”.
Several women have been leading Anti-CAA protests at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for over a month now, with similar women-led protests erupting across the country.
“Today is the first day of the Budget Session (in which) the opposition would have got an opportunity to present their views. But today was not the occasion to make a political point,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
“Congress has been in power for so long. They should have thought twice before disrupting the President’s speech. The TMC also raised placards… This is a complete breakdown of convention,” he added.
Later in the day, Binoy Vishwam of the Communist Party of India issued a statement saying that the President talking about a $5 trillion economy was “hogwash”. “The multiple attempts by this government to mislead the country will serve no purpose as the people shall see through their lies,” his statement read.
Ahead of the session, Congress MPs, led by party president Sonia Gandhi also carried out a protest near the Gandhi statue inside Parliament with placards that read “Save democracy”, “Save India”, “No to NRC-CAA-NPR”.