Rahul, Sonia Gandhi Lambaste Modi-Shah Govt In Big Opposition Meet; TMC, BSP, AAP, Key Absentees

New Delhi: In order to step up their ante against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at Centre against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Congress party on Monday organised a meeting of Oppositions parties in the national capital. Chaired by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, the meeting was aimed at charting out a strategy to unite Opposition against CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC), economic slowdown and other political situation in the country.

The meeting called by the Congress was expected to be a show of strength for the Opposition, but turned out to be questionable several parties including Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Samajwadi Party and others decided to miss. Even, Congress’ ally in Maharashtra – Shiv Sena – gave it a miss.

Congress ally in Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has also skipped the meeting despite the party and its president MK Stalin being vocal against the amended citizenship law.

“Government has let loose reign of oppression, spreading hatred&trying to divide our people along sectarian lines. There is an unprecedented turmoil. Constitution is being undermined and instruments of governance being misused,” Sonia Gandhi said in the meeting.

“There has been nation-wide protests by youth supported by citizens. Immediate cause is CAA and NRC but they reflect widespread frustration and pent up anger, which is now out in the open. The response of the police in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi has been shockingly partisan and brutal,” she said.

“Prime Minister and Home Minister have misled the people. They have contradicted their own statements of only weeks ago, and continue with their provocative statements while remaining insensitive to the state suppression and violence that is increasingly becoming commonplace,” Congress President said.

“Nation watched in horror at BJP-orchestrated assault on JNU coming so soon after what happened in Jamia, BHU, Allahabad University & AMU and other institutions of higher learning. Modi-Shah government stands exposed for its inability to govern and provide security to people,” she stated.

Leaders of Congress and 19 other opposition parties met in New Delhi to deliberate their strategy. The big meeting comes in the backdrop of protests against CAA in different parts of the country. Opposition parties have also expressed concern over the violence in JNU in which 30 students were injured and police action over anti-CAA protestors in different parts of the country.

The meeting is being held two days after the meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC) in which it strongly opposed CAA and NRC and termed the National Population Register (NPR) being carried out by the Central government as a “disguised NRC.”

The meeting was attended by Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and leaders from both the National Conference and the PDP but leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiv Sena were not present. The Congress leaders present in the meeting included party chief Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, KC Venugopal, and AK Antony.

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The opposition party leaders who attended the meeting were NCP’s Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, JMM’s Hemant Soren, RJD’s Manoj Jha, CPI’s D Raja, Loktantrik Janta Dal’s Sharad Yadav, IUML’s PK Kinhalikutty, RSP’s Shatrujeet Singh, Kerala Congress-Mani’s Thomas Chazhikkadan, AIUDF’s Sirajuddin Ajmal and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference.

Others present include PDP’s Mir Mohd Fayaz, D Kupendra Reddy of JD-S, RLD’s Ajit Singh, Hindustani Awami Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi, RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha, Swabhiman Paksha’s Raju Shetty, Forward Block’s G Devarajan, and VCK’s Thol Thirumavalavan.

While speaking with reporters after the meeting, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that  instead of addressing the problem of the youth Narendra Modi is trying to distract the nation and divide people. “Voice of the youth is legitimate, it should not be suppressed, the government should listen to it,” he said.

“Narendra Modi should have courage to tell youngsters why Indian economy has become a disaster…He doesn’t have guts to stand in front of students. I challenge him to go to any university, stand there without police&tell people what he’s going to do for this country,” Rahul Gandhi added.

Mamata Banerjee, whose party is opposed to CAA, had stated earlier that her party will not take part in the meeting over the “violence” by Congress and Left parties during a strike last week. BSP chief Mayawati cited “betrayal” by the Congress in Rajasthan as the reason for her party not attending the meeting.

AAP MP Sanjay Singh said that his party will not attend the Opposition meeting as they were not informed about it. The meeting is being held days before the Budget Session, which is expected to begin in the last week of January.

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