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Trinamool, NDA oppose communal violence bill

Saturday September 10, 2011 05:58:20 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The central government Saturday faced strong criticism over its communal violence bill, with the Trinamool Congress joining the BJP, the AIADMK and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in expressing reservations and chief ministers of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-ruled states terming the draft legislation "dangerous".

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was taken by surprise at the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, where the draft legislation came up for discussion.

The proposed law seeks to hold state government functionaries responsible for communal violence and attacks on minorities and paves way for the central government to intervene during communal flare-ups.

Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi told reporters that West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who represented the state at the NIC meeting, opposed the provisions of the bill.

Trivedi, however, did not give the details of the provisions to which his party, led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is opposed.

If that was not surprise enough, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who heads the BSP, accused the government of not giving state governments a draft of the proposed legislation. She, in fact, stayed away from the NIC meeting.

"It is important to tell that the centre has not sent the proposed communal violence bill to the state government. Hence it is not the opportune moment to comment on the bill," Mayawati said in a written speech read out on her behalf at the meeting.

The draft bill, prepared by the National Advisory Council headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeks to protect "groups" from communal violence and harm, describing "religious and linguistic minority, in any state in the Union of India, or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes" as victims.

The BJP's Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha respectively, too expressed their opposition to the bill.

The BJP has alleged that the bill was prepared with the "Gujarat experience" as the subtext. It has rejected the draft bill, saying it is based on the "presumption that communal trouble is created only by members of the majority community and never by a member of the minority community".

BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh's Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan contended that the bill may encourage intolerance and harm federalism. "The bill expresses feeling of mistrust in the state government machinery and lacks clarity in defining crimes for organised communal violence," Chouhan said at the meeting.

His party colleague and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh also said the draft bill will harm the federal structure of the country.

"The proposed bill has many structural loopholes. The biggest problem is that this bill is against India's federal structure. The national authority set up with the help of this bill will have the power to issue directions to any state authority for any investigation," he said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi too kept away from the NIC meeting, to register his opposition to the communal violence bill and to state Governor Kamla Beniwal appointing the Lokayukta without consulting his government.

The BJP's ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) too is against the communal violence bill. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of SAD, whose speech was read out in his absence at the NIC meeting, said: "A reality check is required for the bill on communal violence bill, which the government of India is seeking to bring in. The bill can lead to avoidable confrontation between the centre and the states."

Tamil Nadu's ruling party AIADMK, led by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, too has opposed the bill, claiming it infringed upon the state's powers and was against the spirit of the federal structure of India's Constitution.

Tamil Nadu went unrepresented at the NIC meeting, as the state assembly is in session.




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