The Congress party wants the proposed Communal Violence Bill to be altered to tone down the “anti-federal” nature of the legislation. The party has said issues in the National Advisory Council-drafted legislation need to be sorted. It also agreed that concerns of several states, especially regional parties, towards protecting their authority and sovereignty were legitimate.
“Honest, merit-based differences on matters of law can arise and will be sorted out,” party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Monday. On Saturday, after a meeting of the National Integration Council, the Trinamool Congress, a key constituent of the Congress-led UPA, joined the National Democratic Allliance-ruled states in opposing the proposed law as anti-federal in nature. Singhvi, however, clarified these should not be interpreted as ‘political differences’ between the Congress and it ally.
Congress sources say provisions in the Bill which give the Centre the power to send security forces into a state in the event of an outbreak of communal violence will have to be toned down, as the power of maintaining law and order resides with the state government.
According to a party functionary, such interventions are being viewed as encroachments on a state’s authority. Regional parties owe their existence to their authority in the state, said a senior Congress leader and post-1991 like it or not, federalism has become very strong and the Congress and the UPA government has to respect that.
TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister had objected to the “anti-federal” character of the bill. At the National Integration Council meeting on Saturday, the TMC had advised the UPA to hold greater discussions with not just the states but also other political parties before tabling such a bill.
BJP and all the BJP ruled states have already lodged their opposition to this legislation.