In 2013, several states expressed disagreement to the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill, and then Union Cabinet gave its approval to it, paving the way for its introduction in the winter session of Parliament. Then they termed it as one of the key laws proposed by the UPA government, which has been pending for long. Then Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said extensive discussions were held on the Bill. That time, the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Odisha also wrote to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying the proposed legislation was exclusively in the domain of the States and opposed the move to bring the Bill in the Parliament. They also questioned the timing of the Bill ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and described the reworked draft as a “deliberate encroachment upon the jurisdiction of the States. In fact Modi had described the bill as “a recipe for disaster.”
To dispel apprehensions of the States, the Union has made the draft bill neutral among all groups or communities and the Central government does not any perceived overriding powers anywhere. The earlier version specifically mentioned that the onus of riots lay on the majority community. BJP which was in opposition has opposed the Bill on the ground that the measure will be a “threat to India’s communal harmony.”
Once again, Communal Violence Bill has reached in the Parliament. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, often accused of not taking interest in parliamentary proceedings, actively took part in the party’s protests in Lok Sabha against price rise. Rahul, who always sits in the back benches, stood on the aisle joining other Congress and opposition members who stormed the well, disrupting normal business of the House. Opposition members continued slogan shouting against hike in prices of food as well as petrol, diesel and LPG besides rail fare hike and Rahul stood in the aisle during the entire period. When the Congress leader was taking part in protests, his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi was in her seat in the front row. First time after Congress’ defeat, I saw Rahul Gandhi speaking for something in larger interest.
Anyone would have supported Communal Violence Bill, when the format is amended and changes are made. It has to protect all sections of the society including the Hindus from the communal violence of ‘so called’ minorities who are really not in minority in some part of India, such areas also need protection. For example, Godhra carnage is a form of riot on Hindus and hence such provisions are strongly needed in the proposal. I was not surprised when BJP was opposing the bill, because if they don’t oppose then they will be exposed. If any State Government sponsors communalism, it will be committing breach of constitutional machinery warranting imposing President’s rule.
I think, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is little biased. She knows the art of not giving opportunity to other party leaders to speak in Parliament. In a functional democracy, voice of opposition needs to be heard and addressed. There are attempts to flare communal hatred and the devilish malice should be nipped off at the budding stage itself. Both ruling and opposition need to debate and harmony should be brought in at any cost. India is not poor but only a sizable poor live here. The tendency of not allowing debate on important issue is not good for democracy. Why the ruling party is averse to discussion on communal issues? Leaving aside Rahul’s theatrics, one wonders why the BJP isn’t talking about the forced conversion. One discerns a touch of disgusting pseudo-secularism in the BJP now. They are silent on illicit money abroad and courting BJP haters like Aamir Khan. Jaitley has too much influence and power. He is an old party circuit guy who even lost the safe seat of Amritsar. Modi must not take the voters for granted and repeat Vajpayee’s mistakes and ditch the nationalist cause under the influence of Jaitley types. Don’t ever forget the 2004 election. We are not cannon fodder for use to grab and enjoy power. These old enemies turned new found friends will never be loyal to Modi. Keep yourself on the path you promised voters. So far, Modi has disappointed people. Don’t let power go to your head like Vajpayee and Advani. We want Sardar Patel not Jawahar Lal Nehru.
BJP does not understand that, we want India as a global economic and military powerhouse. When the Indian Government does not allow the opposition a chance to voice the country’s grievances, then it is giving signal that they are taking this country in a wrong direction. Is pointing this out wrong? Should opposition keep quiet for the next five years?