The Bharatiya Janata Party said on Tuesday that it would “unequivocally oppose” the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill when it came up for discussion in Parliament on the grounds that it would be a “threat to India’s communal harmony.”
Describing the Bill as a “pet project of the National Advisory Council,” headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the BJP said that despite reservations expressed by several Chief Ministers the Centre was rushing ahead with the Bill.
“Now with the Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, the Congress is intent on introducing this Bill during the winter session, and this smacks of communal and polarising politics. The amended version is still not available for public discourse. The earlier version was highly discriminatory, because based on one’s birth in a particular religious community, he was pre-slotted as an accused or as a victim. Its typical feature was prejudice, and not equality before law,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Earlier, senior leader Arun Jaitley pointed to a letter Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, voicing strong opposition to the draft.
“The AIADMK leaders mentioned this at the all party meeting convened by the government on the eve of Parliament’s winter session. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has reiterated her opposition to this Bill. The letter mentions that ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’ are the State subjects, and several provisions of this Bill encroach on the federal structure of the Constitution. She has further mentioned that the provisions of this Bill are vague and could be subjected to serious abuse. She believes that the changes in the earlier Bill are cosmetic at best and are highly objectionable. She reiterates that the words ‘hostile environment’ have been defined as ‘creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.’ This itself could be subjected to different interpretations,” Mr. Jaitley said in a post on Facebook.