Kolkata: Urging all parties opposing CAA and NPR to come together, the Congress on Saturday extended the olive branch to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and other leaders who skipped January 13 Delhi deliberations hoping they would turn up in some other meeting that might be convened on the twin issues. “For the sake of the country, all parties which are opposing the CAA and NPR should come together… What is at stake are far more important issues… One shouldn’t miss the larger picture,” he said.
“The larger picture is we are fighting to save the Constitution of India, we are fighting to save the enduring values embodied in the Constitution of India. So all those who fight for these values must eventually come together on one platform. And I am confident, they will,” Congress Working Committee member P. Chidambaram told media.
Apart from Banerjee, Samajwadi Party, DMK and the BSP did not attend, while Shiv Sena and the AAP said they were not invited for the meeting convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Chidambaram said Gandhi made an attempt to invite as many parties as possible, and 20 of them participated.
“Some did not. That doesn’t mean that is the final word. Maybe there well be another meeting, maybe they will attend. What is important is we are fighting, not that we are fighting together always. But fighting separately is also fighting, fighting together is also fighting,” he said.
“The fact is we are trying to build a united opposition to the CAA and NPR. We have succeeded substantially. Some parties are fighting separately. Hopefully, some day they will all come on a united platform,” he said.
Asked whether the Congress would invite to future meetings leaders like Banerjee who stayed away from Monday’s deliberations, Chidambaram said he was certain invitations will go out.
“If somebody asks my view, I’ll say of course we send an invitation. What is the harm? I invite you to my house once, you do not come. That doesn’t mean I don’t invite you again,” he said.
To repeated queries about the lack of unity of the anti-CAA parties in Bengal, Chidambaram said: “In Bengal or in any other state, there are some domestic factors at play. Purely intra-state factors, though the big picture should not be missed”.
He pointed out that the Congress was working with the Left parties in the state, and they were carrying on the movement together at the district level too.
On questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending an invite to his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan, Chidambaram said it only means the government has modified its earlier position “about no engagement with Pakistan”.
He disagreed with a scribe who said that many parties now find the Congress unreliable. “In the last Lok Sabha election, 19 per cent Indians relied on the Congress and voted for it. The Congress also got votes in the recent assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.
“But I do admit, we need to do more, we need to get more people on our side. But that doesn’t mean nobody relies on us,” he added.