The ideological predicament of the Shiv Sena, which leads the coalition with the NCP and INC in Maharashtra government, while criticising the amended Citizenship Act and the police action on Jamia Millia Islamia, has decided not to be a part of the Sonia Gandhi-led delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind where the opposition plans to request his intervention in the matter of enforcing the new law on Tuesday in the evening.
Sanjay Raut feigned ignorance about the meet, saying to news agency ANI, “I do not know about this. Shiv Sena is not part of this delegation.” But for consistency with the party’s stand on the Citizenship Act, Raut added that the Narendra Modi government’s implementation of the Citizenship Act was not in the country’s best interests. “It was only expected that there will be riots in parts of India after the implementation of the bill. The steps they are taking are not good for the country,” he said.
Raut said further that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would decide on implementing the law in the State after bringing the matter to his Cabinet’s notice.
The Shiv Sena had snapped its 30-year-old alliance with the BJP in November after a disagreement over power-sharing in Maharashtra although it was the junior partner in the pre-poll alliance.
The Maharashtra-based party has already expressed its discomfiture with Rahul Gandhi’s “I am not Rahul Savarkar” jibe. On the issue of citizenship, no matter how much the Sena argued against the bill, it voted for the legislation in the Lok Sabha and abstained from voting in the Rajya Sabha, breaking ranks with its newfound allies.
In the morning, Thackeray had said, “From the manner in which police entered a (university) campus in Delhi and fired at students, I was reminded of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Are we creating a Jallianwala Bagh-like situation in this country by trying to scare students?” Of course, there was no confirmed report of police firing.
INC president Sonia Gandhi is meeting the president with a delegation of opposition leaders to complain against the amended Citizenship Act this evening. Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra and several other leaders of the INC had held a sit-in protest at India Gate in solidarity with the students on Monday.
The Citizenship Act was amended by the ruling BJP with the intention of expediting citizenship for non-Muslim protesters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. Opposition parties and rights activists claim that it is an attempt at tearing down the country’s secular character by discriminating against a certain community.