A Congress delegation led by party president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday asked President Ram Nath Kovind to remove Union Home Minister Amit Shah for ‘abdication of duty during the communal violence in Delh i’ and urged him to remind the Centre of its raj dharma (duty of the rulers).
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the riot-related deaths as “a matter of national shame and reflected a total failure of the government in controlling the riots”.
In a memorandum submitted to the President, the Congress argued that though the violence had taken place over the course of four days the seeds of this division were deliberately sown by inflammatory remarks of BJP leaders in the run-up to (and even after) the Delhi elections.
After submitting the memorandum, Ms Gandhi read out parts from it in which she said both the Centre and the Delhi government remained ‘mute spectators’ instead of trying to take remedial measures to control the mindless rage, designed violence and organised looting of property that continued unabated.
“We call upon you and the constitutional office you hold, that the life, liberty and property of the citizens is preserved, secured and protected. You should immediately call for the removal of the Home Minister given the gross ineptitude, abdication of duty and his inability to contain the situation,” Ms. Gandhi read out before reporters after meeting Mr. Kovind.
“We owe this to the citizens who have lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihood and most of all their long cherished amity and brotherhood. We hope you will take decisive action on this matter,” she said.
“Rashtrapatiji, you are given the highest possible responsibility under the Constitution of India: to act as the conscience keeper of this government and to remind it of its constitutional duty and the pillars of ‘raj dharma’ by which any just government must abide,” she said.
Apart Ms. Gandhi and Dr. Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram, K.C. Venugopal, Mallikharjuna Kharge, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Anand Sharma, A.K. Antony, Kumari Selja and Randeep Surjewala comprised the delegation.
Ms. Gandhi questioned the role of Mr. Shah as well the Delhi government when the violence spread across north-east Delhi.
“What was he [Amit Shah] preoccupied with since last Sunday that he was unable, apparently, to give his attention to these grave events? For that matter, the Delhi Chief Minister, and the newly-elected Delhi government were also completely missing from the scene,” she said.
Dr. Singh said, “We called upon his Excellency the President of India to suggest to him that what is happening in the last four days in the national capital of India, is a matter of deep concern and it is also a matter of national shame…We requested the President to use his power to call upon the Central Government to protect and preserve its Raj Dharma so that the citizens of this country and this national capital are assured of peace tranquillity and justice,” .
The memorandum said it was a “shameful indictment” of the Central government, the Home Ministry and the Home Minister himself that the Delhi High Court had to step in.
“It is how the leaders and institutions of a country react in times of crisis that defines how we are remembered by history and the rest of the world. We cannot be found wanting in this hour where certain groups seek to divide the people of our great nation for their parochial and petty gains,” it read.