With eye on Assembly elections, Congress plans nationwide protest

Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot during the CWC meet in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
With an eye on Assembly elections to three key states slated for later this year, the Congress on Saturday announced its intent to launch nationwide protests and public campaigns to demand answers from the central government on a slew of issues.

At the meeting of its highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party said it will hit the streets to demand the government answers on the “1.3 trillion Rafale fighter jet deal scam” and its “conspiracy” to make bank fraudsters like Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi flee the country.

The CWC met here for what was only its second meeting after it was reconstituted last month under party president Rahul Gandhi. The Congress is also hopeful that other opposition parties will add their respective voices in demanding answers on the “Rafale scam, bank frauds, agrarian distress and joblessness”.

In a show of solidarity, the Congress joined Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav-led protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in the evening to highlight the Bihar government’s inaction in the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape cases.

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, the Left parties, Trinamool Congress, Indian National Lok Dal’s Dushyant Chautala and other opposition leaders also attended the protest in the heart of Delhi. Gandhi was also scheduled to attend.

The CWC meeting also discussed the issue of National Registry of Citizens or NRC, in Assam. Surjewala said the Congress believes the Modi-led government is trying to disrupt the social fabric by raking up divisive issues and diverting attention from its “colossal failures, rampant corruption, unemployment and economic mess”. He said the CWC has appealed to Congress party workers to frustrate the designs of the Modi government.

Congress party’s general secretary (organisation) Ashok Gehlot and spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala released the government’s official press releases and information tabled on the floor of Parliament that suggests the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had taken firmer steps to deport illegal immigrants to Bangladesh.

According to this data, the UPA government between 2005 and 2013 deported 82,728 illegal immigrants from Assam.
 Calling the BJP and its leadership “pseudo nationalists”, Surjewala said that in the last four years, the government’s record was “all talk and no action” as it has deported a mere 1,822 illegal immigrants.

The CWC had invited Congress leaders from Assam to hear their views on the subject of NRC at Saturday’s meet. Surjewala said the CWC noted that the NRC process was initiated under the historic Assam accord of 1985, which was signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The committee also discussed that the UPA government and the party’s government in Assam had expedited the NRC process from 2005 onwards, with the objective of deporting illegal immigrants. 

Surjewala said that in 2009, the UPA-2 government had allocated Rs 4.89 billion to appoint 25,000 enumerations, and completed 80 per cent of the NRC process by May 2016. In contrast, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had allocated only Rs 500,000 for the NRC during its tenure.
Surjewala said the CWC considers the Assam accord as the framework agreement and remains committed to it.


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