CAA, NPR test gets tougher for Uddhav govt as budget session begins on MondayUpdated: Feb 23, 2020 01:05 IST
Conflicting views on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR) have led to unease in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) — a coalition between Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress — on the eve of their government’s first budget session, which starts on Monday.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar held a closed-door meeting in Mumbai on Saturday, after the Congress and NCP expressed displeasure over the former’s statements supporting CAA and NPR, made in New Delhi on Friday.
Thackeray has on multiple occasions spoken in favour of CAA and has said he would implement NPR as part of the Census exercise in Maharashtra, although his alliance partners have opposed both.
On Friday, during his visit to New Delhi, where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Thackeray reiterated his stand on CAA and NPR.
Reacting to Thackeray’s statement, Congress national spokesperson Manish Tewari said on Saturday “the chief minister is required to be briefed” on both issues.
Tewari said National Register of Citizens (NRC) can’t be stopped once NPR is conducted in the state, and “design of the Constitution doesn’t allow providing citizenship based on a religion”.
Shiv Sena leader and former union minister leader Arvind Sawant countered Tewari’s statement, saying “Thackeray is in full knowledge of the law”.
State home minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh, however, said the coordination committee comprising leaders from all the three parties will take a final decision. “NCP chief’s stand is our stand. The issue will be discussed in the coordination committee meeting,” said Deshmukh, adding that no one will lose citizenship in Maharashtra.
In the closed-door meeting at Varsha, the official residence of the chief minister, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, state NCP president Jayant Patil and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut were also present along with Thackeray and Sharad Pawar. The leaders discussed the issue of NPR and the chief minister’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, said a NCP leader, on condition of anonymity.
“The issues [CAA, NPR] are likely to be discussed in the coordination committee of all the three parties on Sunday,” said the leader. “Whatever is found objectionable would be conveyed to the Centre.”
Congress leader and PWD minister Ashok Chavan said that the Congress’s stand has been clear from the beginning. “The coordination committee meeting is scheduled tomorrow. The issues are likely to be discussed in it,” he said.
To prevent any further trouble between the allies, it was also decided to avoid controversial issues during the budget session, said another leader, who was present at the meeting.
“The election for seven Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra that are going to be vacant in April this year was also discussed in the meet on Saturday,” said the leader.
Political analyst Prakash Bal said there will be no trouble within the government as Thackeray took a nuanced stand and has kept room open for him to change his position, if needed.
“I don’t think the MVA government would be in trouble as they are ready to sort out the issue of CAA and NPR. CM Thackeray has taken a nuanced stand. He has kept room open to say no [to CAA and NPR], in case, he realises there is trouble within MVA. He has done so because before becoming the CM, Shiv Sena has taken a strident stand on these issues. He wants to convey the impression that he has not changed his position but at the same time he is making nuanced statements,” Bal said.