Trinamool joins NDA, non-UPA states in opposing Communal Violence Bill

Trinamool joins NDA, non-UPA states in opposing Communal Violence Bill

PTI | Sep 10, 2011, 04.15PM IST

NEW DELHI: The proposed Communal Violence Bill on Saturday ran into trouble with NDA-ruled states and Congress ally Trinamool Congress opposing it as “dangerous” legislation and arguing that it would hurt the federal structure of the country.

At a meeting of National Integration Council (NIC) where the issue was on the agenda, NDA and chief ministers of the states ruled by it — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Punjab — expressed opposition to the draft legislation in its current form.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who also attended the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the proposed legislation was “dangerous” as it would “encourage communalism” rather than curbing it by furthering the divide between majority and minority communities.

Dinesh Trivedi, a senior leader of Trinamool Congress, a key constituent of the UPA, said his party also opposes the Bill in the present form.

Opposing the Bill, chief minister of BJD-ruled Orissa Naveen Patnaik, said it has some “objectionable” provisions which “directly affect the autonomy of states”.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, whose speech was read out in absentia, said: “it is not the opportune moment to comment on the Bill”.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar voiced concern over certain provisions in the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Regulations) Bill 2011, saying it may create “impression” among the people at large that majority community is “always responsible for communal incidents.”

In a speech read out by senior Bihar minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Kumar asked the Centre to hold “thorough discussion” with state governments for making certain amendments that are warranted before introducing it in Parliament.

He specifically opposed the provision for the promulgation of Article 355 of the Constitution, which gives the Centre a right to intervene, in a limited area during “internal disturbance”, saying it amounted to “unnecessary interference in state’s jurisdiction”.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Bill was intended to meet “vested interests” and may undermine the country’s federal structure.  “The Bill expresses the feeling of mistrust in the state government machinery and lacks clarity in defining crimes for organised communal violence,” he said. “I urge the Union Government to have faith in the state governments and strengthen them, which in turn will strengthen the nation. If state governments are weakened to serve some vested interests, the nation will become weak and it will give impetus to parochial forces,” Chauhan said.

Send Communal Violence Bill draft, then seek views: Mayawati

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati criticised the Centre for seeking views of the state government on the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill without providing a draft of the bill to it. “It is important to tell that the Centre has not sent the proposed communal violence bill to the state government. Hence it is not the opportune moment to comment on the Bill,” Mayawati said in a written speech read out at the National Integration Council meeting.

She said reports appearing in the media are creating confusion in the minds of the people about the bill. “It will be appropriate if the Centre forwards the draft bill to the state governments and then seek their views on it,” she said. Pointing out that the state government had demanded 642 companies of central forces after the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi decision but only 52 companies were provided, she said, “Still communal harmony prevailed in the state due to smart police arrangement in the state”. Mayawati said the state government is running a number of schemes for uplift of the minority community in the state by protecting their fundamental rights and taking care of their educational, cultural, economic requirements.

“The state has enacted the UP Minority Commission amendment Act 2007 to protect rights of the minority community. The state is also helping in modernisation of ‘madrassas’ enabling them to impart education in modern subjects in addition to religious education”. She said a number of schemes are being launched in the state to protect the interests of the marginalised group.