KOLKATA — Urging all parties opposing CAA and NPR to come together, the Congress on Saturday extended the olive branch to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and other leaders who skipped January 13 Delhi deliberations hoping they would turn up in some other meeting that might be convened on the twin issues.
“For the sake of the country, all parties which are opposing the CAA and NPR should come together… What is at stake are far more important issues… One shouldn’t miss the larger picture.
“The larger picture is we are fighting to save the Constitution of India, we are fighting to save the enduring values embodied in th cConstitution of India. So all those who fight for these values must eventually come together on one platform. And I am confident, they will,” Congress Working Committee member P. Chidambaram told media, reports IANS.
Apart from Banerjee, Samajwadi Party, DMK and the BSP did not attend, while Shiv Sena and the AAP said they were not invited for the meeting convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Chidambaram said Gandhi made an attempt to invite as many parties as possible, and 20 of them participated.
“Some did not. That doesn’t mean that is the final word. Maybe there well be another meeting, maybe they will attend. What is important is we are fighting, not that we are fighting together always. But fighting separately is also fighting, fighting together is also fighting,” he said.
“The fact is we are trying to build a united opposition to the CAA and NPR. We have succeeded substantially. Some parties are fighting separately. Hopefully, some day they will all come on a united platform,” he said.
Asked whether the Congress would invite to future meetings leaders like Banerjee who stayed away from Monday’s deliberations, Chidambaram said he was certain invitations will go out.
“If somebody asks my view, I’ll say of course we send an invitation. What is the harm? I invite you to my house once, you do not come. That doesn’t mean I don’t invite you again,” he said.
On questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending an invite to his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan, Chidambaram said it only means the government has modified its earlier position “about no engagement with Pakistan”.
He disagreed with a scribe who said that many parties now find the Congress unreliable”.
“In the last Lok Sabha election, 19 per cent Indians relied on the Congress and voted for it. The Congress also got votes in the recent assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand. But I do admit, we need to do more, we need to get more people on our side. But that doesn’t mean nobody relies on us,” he added.
No constitutional issues involved in refusing to carry out NPR exercise
Backing the Congress-led state governments for attending the Delhi meeting on National Population Register, P. Chidambaram on Saturday said participation in the deliberations does not mean acquiescence, and claimed no constitutional issues were involved in states refusing to carry out the NPR exercise, reports IANS.
“Participation does not mean acquiescence. The Centre invites the officers of the state government to state its case as to why NPR should be rolled out. The officers of the state government go and attend the meeting to find out what the view of the Census Commissioner are.
“They place on the table why they are opposing the NPR. That’s the correct thing to do,” Chidambaram told media here.
According to the report the Congress working committee member claimed no constitutional issues were involved in some states deciding not to implement the NPR.
He said with the Supreme Court seized with the validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the states were “perfectly justified” in saying let the constitutional validity of CAA be decided first, and then they would take a call.
The Supereme Court is set to hear on January 22 a bunch of petitions moved against the CAA which was passed by Parliament last month.
“NPR will eventually lead to CAA. So why do you do an NPR now?” he asked.
(With agency inputs)