Gandhi shanti yatra led by former minister Yashwant Sinha reaches Surat: ‘CAA ploy to divert attention from economic slowdown’

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Former minister Yashwant Sinha addresses the media in Surat on Sunday. (Express photo)

A nationwide tour to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens — the Gandhi Shanti Yatra — led by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, reached Surat on Sunday. The 3,000-km yatra, began from Mumbai on January 9.

The campaign has been organised under the banner of Sinha's organisation Rashtra Manch. Having already covered Maharashtra and part of Gujarat, the yatra will now traverse through Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and finally culminate at Rajghat in New Delhi on January 30.

Sinha on Sunday said that enactment of the “unconstitutional and unnecessary” new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was a ploy by the Centre to “divert attention” of people from its “failure” to prevent the economic slowdown. Addressing a gathering here, Sinha quoted former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian saying that India was facing a “great slowdown with its economy headed for intensive care unit (ICU)”.

“All sections of the society are disenchanted with the functioning of the government. Those in the government are great experts at diverting attention. So, this unconstitutional, unnecessary Act (CAA) is meant to divert the attention of the youth, farmers, women, so they get involved in opposing this and do not think about their daily difficulties. The Act was brought in because the economic condition of the country is at present in a great danger,” Sinha said.

“We have started this yatra to save the Constitution. We will not allow anybody to divide the country on the basis of religion. We have three demands — repeal CAA, no implementation of NRC and judicial inquiry into the recent attacks in Jawaharlal Nehru University. We are seeking support from the public and are hopeful that many people will join our march when it culminates at Rajghat. We are trying to bring the truth before the citizens,” Sinha said.

Sinha was accompanied by senior politician and former chief minister of Gujarat Suresh Mehta and other Congress leaders.

“The biggest catch of the Act, which is why this can't be implemented, despite being notified by the Central government, is that it talks about giving citizenship to persons who have suffered religious persecution or fear of religious persecution,” Sinha told reporters.

“...Where is the evidence of religious persecution? It is in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but not in India. Will India get proof of this from neighbouring countries?” he asked.

“How will a child prove if their parents or grandparents who migrated here from neighbouring countries are dead? This Act cannot be truly implemented because it is unconstitutional, with an artificial cut-off date, is based on religion, and is impractical,” he added.

With PTI inputs