New Delhi: In a blistering attack on the BJP over the handling of the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused the government of showing ‘utter disregard’ for people’s voices and said it has unleashed ‘brute repression’ something that was ‘unacceptable’ in a democracy.
Condemning the government’s action, she expressed Congress’ solidarity with students and citizens in their ‘just struggle’.
In a televised message, she said that people have the right to raise their voice against the ‘wrong decisions and policies’ of the government, and register their concerns.
‘The Congress party assures the people of India that it is fully committed to stand up and defend their fundamental rights and uphold the foundational values of our Constitution,’ she said.
Sonia Gandhi’s message comes amidst raging protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
‘In a democracy, people have a right to raise their voice against wrong decisions and policies of the government and register their concerns. Equally, it is the duty of the government to listen to the citizens and address their concerns. The BJP Government has shown utter disregard for people’s voices and chosen to use brute force to suppress dissent. This is unacceptable in a democracy,’ she said.
‘There have been spontaneous protests in the universities, IITs, IIMs and other leading academic institutions throughout the country against the divisive agenda and anti-people policies of the BJP government,’ she said.
She also said the new Act was ‘discriminatory’ and that the proposed nation-wide National Register for Citizens would particularly hurt the poor and the vulnerable.
‘Like at the time of ‘notebandi’ (demonetisation), they will have to stand in line to prove their and their ancestors’ citizenship. People’s apprehensions are real and legitimate,’ Sonia Gandhi said.
Hitting back at Sonia Gandhi for her statement, senior BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of ‘misleading’ people over the CAA and linking it ‘falsely’ with the National Register for Citizens (NRC) which, the Union Minister said, has not even been formulated as yet.
In a statement issued by the BJP, she appealed to protesters to read the law and seek clarification, and urged them to stay away from the forces which are ‘misleading’ them and using ‘violence and spreading fear’ among citizens of the country.
‘I appeal to all Indian citizens not to get into this confusion or sense of fear. The Congress and parties like the TMC, AAP and the Left are spreading fears by linking the Citizenship Amendment Act with the NRC, which is not yet formulated,’ Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She said the NRC process would not start without consulting the stakeholders or talking to people.
‘I appeal to every Indian not to get influenced by what the frustrated Congress, TMC, AAP and Left are doing,’ she added.
The Citizenship Amendment Act does not deny citizenship to any Indian, she said, asserting that the law has nothing to do with any Indian citizen.
The Citizenship Act will give citizenship to people who fled persecution, she said, adding they had been waiting for it for 70 years.