Stating that democracy in India is under threat from the BJP-led government at the Centre, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to chief ministers and senior leaders belonging to opposition parties urging them to unite and chalk out a plan to “save the country”.
Banerjee described the current situation arising out of protests in the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed NRC as “serious” and urged all the non- BJP parties to come together and rise against the “draconian regime” of the central government. Congress leader P Chidambaram also appealed to all opposition parties to unite, stating that Jharkhand poll results have shown that BJP was not unbeatable.
As massive anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register Citizens (NRC) protests continued in several parts of the country for a ninth consecutive day on Monday, including in Chennai and Bengaluru, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy joined the growing list of non-BJP chief ministers to announce that he would not implement NRC in the state. As many as 10 non-BJP chief ministers, including ally and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, have announced they will not implement NRC in their respective states.
The top Congress leadership, led by party chief Sonia Gandhi, sat on “Satyagraha for Unity” at Rajghat, in New Delhi, demanding protection of the rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.
The leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, participated in the “Satyagraha”, which was also meant to express solidarity with the youth and students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed countrywide NRC as well as against the police “atrocities” on them.
In Kolkata, and in a blow to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s opposition to CAA, the Calcutta High Court passed an interim order ordering the state government to remove all advertisements it posted about the law and restrained it from issuing any such commercials further.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar expressed surprise at Modi’s comment, and said President Ram Nath Kovind had even talked about the government’s plan to implement the NRC across the country in his joint address to Parliament. “Now to say there was no discussion on this (NRC in the Cabinet) is not right,” Pawar said.
“I think the government has failed on every front. To divert attention of the public at large from such a situation, they are raising such issues and giving such speeches. Beyond that there is nothing in it,” Pawar said.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it will be implemented but only after “detailed discussions”. The NRC has been discussed neither in Parliament nor in the Cabinet, he said.
The Congress noted that the BJP in its Jharkhand assembly election manifesto claimed it will implement the NRC and Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said it will be implemented across the country.
"Welcome to the conversation PM Modi, the country has been waiting for you. It's sad that the first time you've addressed the growing unrest in our nation you do so with hate and lies, but alas, what more can we expect from the Divider in Chief," the opposition party said on Twitter.
Another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "Prime minister says one thing. Home minister says something else. But this is all part of the good cop-bad cop routine. Nobody should get fooled".
DMK president M K Stalin along with leaders of allies, including Congress leader P Chidambaram, MDMK chief Vaiko and state unit leaders of the Left parties in a protest rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, in Chennai. | Photo: PTI
"BJP's 2019 election manifesto promised the NRC all over the country," a statement from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said.
Bengaluru saw a massive protest against CAA and NRC at Hazarath Khazi Mohammed Abdul Khuddus Sahib Eidgah on Millers Road in the heart of the city. Around 2 lakh people participated in the 'peace rally' which was called by a joint action committee comprising over 30 organisations representing the minority community.
The venue was dotted with people mostly from the minority community carrying tirangas and raising slogans like Inquilab Zindabad and Hindustan Zindabad. Former IAS officer and social activist Harsh Mander called for a civil disobedience movement against CAA and NRC from the stage which was reciprocated with hum kagaz nahi denge (we will not give our documents) by the crowd.
“CAA and NRC attack the soul of the Constitution. The idea of India will go through a tremendous change if we don’t stop it,” said Syed Zameer Pasha, retired IAS officer and a member of the Joint Action Committee which organised the protest. He said the protests would continue until the central government rolls back CAA and scraps NRC.
Around 5,000 police personnel were deployed in the area. The protest did not witness any law and order issue, quite a change from the spate of violence and arson that have been seen in several parts of the country, in the last few days.
The Loktantrik Jan Pahal activists stage a protest against NRC and citizenship law in Patna. | Photo: PTI
“People from all walks of life participated in the protests. They really cooperated and around 500 volunteers made sure the protests were peaceful,” said Vali Basha, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru. All shops were shut in the area and traffic was diverted from Millers Road to nearby roads. The protest ended with the national anthem.
In Chennai, DMK chief MK Stalin led a massive protest against CAA and NRC.
In Kolkata, BJP working president JP Nadda led a pro-CAA protest.
In New Delhi, 93-students were detained from outside Assam Bhawan when they were demanding the release of RTI activist Akhil Gogoi who was arrested amid violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act across the state.