Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and MP Rahul Gandhi with other leaders at a protest against CAA at Parliament. (Express photo: Anil Sharma)
The Opposition parties on Friday lashed out at the government after President Ram Nath Kovind, in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament, hailed the new citizenship law as historic and a fulfilment of Mahatma Gandhi’s wish.
The Congress said it was “shameful” on the part of the government to claim the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as an achievement. Various opposition parties are preparing to move amendments on the President’s address, seeking removal of the reference to CAA.
The Congress also slammed the government after the President said all development projects in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have gained momentum during the President’s Rule and since they became Union Territories.
Earlier, the Congress and 13 Opposition parties staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament against the new citizenship law, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens before the session began.
“It is unfortunate that the the government has included the passage of the CAA in the President’s Address and called it an achievement. Nothing can be more shameful...The President only reads the speech, everybody knows it is prepared by the Union cabinet...The President is a gentleman. He has been made to utter lies,” Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
Senior leaders P Chidambaram and Anand Sharma said there was nothing new in the President’s Address. Sharma said what has happened is an assault on the Constitution as many of the legislations, which have been claimed as achievements, are “divisive” .
Pointing out that the President’s Address is the first policy statement of the government in the new year, Chidambaram said, “I looked for indications on how the government intended to tackle the grave economic slide. Alas, I found none. All that we heard was tiresome repetition of old slogans and old cliches that have lost all meaning in the last few years.”
“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. The government is clueless, and therefore the President’s Address was silent, on dwindling investment and rising number of stalled projects. The future of the manufacturing sector is bleak,” he said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who addressed the press conference with Azad and Sharma, said, “The society is dangerously inching towards a civil war-like situation and the government is solely responsible for it. The government’s agenda is to divide the people to consolidate its own Hindutva motive.”
CPI general secretary D Raja said, “It is very inappropriate that the government has used Mahatma Gandhi’s name to justify CAA which is an anti-Constitutional and communal...”
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