The Congress on Saturday stepped up its attack on the Modi government on the issue of corruption and took ownership of the National Register of Citizens while accusing BJP of using it as "divisive tool" as it decided to launch a "decisive battle" along with opposition parties against the BJP.
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which was held here under the chairmanship of party chief President Rahul Gandhi, spent considerable time discussing the National Register of Citizens in Assam, which has electoral implications beyond the state.
The CWC also discussed the “scams of the Modi Government including bank frauds, failing economy, rampant unemployment and agrarian distress” during its four-hour long meeting.
It decided to launch a “decisive battle” in the coming days with other opposition parties on the issue of corruption.
The party accused the Modi government of causing Rs 41,000 crore loss to the exchequer in the Rafale fighter jet deal, “complicity” in the escape of Mehul Choksi, charged in the PNB bank fraud case, and causing tax terrorism.
The party sought to deflate the BJP’s nationalist plank on National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying that Congress-led UPA government had deported 82,728 Bangladeshi foreigners between 2005-2013 against a mere 1,822 done by the Modi government.
Briefing reporters, party general secretary Ashok Gehlot said the party has begun its preparations for assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram this year and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and CWC will meet almost every month.
Congress Communications Incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala said the CWC noted with grave concern the “deliberate and diabolic agenda of BJP to play politics to use NRC as a divisive and emotional tool for misleading the people”.
“This is being done to deflect country’s attention from the colossal failures, mega scams like Rafale, bank frauds and others as also the betrayal of people by Modi Government on various promises,” he said.
The CWC called upon Congress leaders and workers to expose the acts of omission and commission of Modi Government and not allow it to escape accountability.
Surjewala said that opposition leaders have discussed the “corruption-related” issues of Modi government with Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders and they will together fight a decisive battle in the coming days to take the matter to people.
He said the CWC decided that it will call upon its party members in Parliament and leaders and workers outside to create an intense people’s movement which would force the government that “evades” issues to answer them.
Surjewala said the Congress was committed to the 1985 Assam Accord, supports the NRC process but there were “multiple anomalies” in the final draft released last month which leaves out 40 lakh persons.
He said the left out persons include the indigenous Assamese people, Hindu Bengalis, Nepalis, Gorkhas, tea tribes, religious minorities, citizens from other states domiciled in Assam and serving and retired defence personnel.
“Every Indian Citizen must be given full opportunity to establish their credentials and prove their citizenship,” Surjewala said.
He said the Manmohan Singh government had in 2009 sanctioned Rs 489 crore and proceeded to appoint 25,000 enumerators for the NRC process and 80 per cent of it was completed by the Tarun Gogoi government.
Surjewala said the Citizenship bill being proposed by Modi government seeks to undo the process of NRC.
“Instead of fooling people, Modi, Amit Shah and the Assam Chief Minister must answer if they support the NRC process or the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016,” he said.
Surjewala alleged that there had been bank scams to the tune of Rs 72,000 crore and CWC had expressed its shock and dismay “over the complicity and connivance” of the Modi government in the escape of fraudster Mehul Choksi in Rs 23,484 crore PNB scam.
He said the statement made by the Citizenship Investment Unit of Antigua makes it clear that the External Affairs Ministry had given a “clean chit” to Mehul Choksi in May 2017. The SEBI had also given a similar ‘clean chit’ and CBI and ED failed to provide adequate evidence to Interpol.
He said the Modi government had adequate knowledge of bank frauds by jeweller Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
“PMO, SFIO, SEBI, CBI, ED, Gujarat Government, Maharashtra Government were aware, yet no action was taken. On May 7, 2015 complaint was filed with Corporate Affairs Ministry and all other authorities. The PMO had acknowledged the complaint on May 26, 2015,” he said.
The party released a list of 42 such complaints filed with PMO and all other authorities.”
“The welfare of fugitives has become the slogan of Modi government,” he alleged.
On Rafale deal for the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France, Surjewala alleged that the Modi government was indulging in a “cover-up” and had refused to disclose the price of the aircraft.
He accused the Modi of violating the Defence Procurement Procedure and sacrificing the country’s interests on the transfer of technology. He said HAL had entered into offset contract of Rs 36,000 crore.
“Once PM Modi decided to buy 36 Rafale aircraft at a 300 per cent higher price than that negotiated during UPA government, the interests of HAL were sacrificed,” he said.
Dubbing CWC as “corruption wali committee” (committee of corruption) instead of Congress Working Committee (CWC), the BJP said that every act of corruption in the country is linked with the Congress and 10, Janpath is its permanent address.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of misleading people against the government and said: “10, Janpath is the permanent address of corruption.”
“Every act of the corruption in this country ultimately leads to Gandhi family and those close to Gandhi family. But ‘corruption wali committee’ accuses others,” Patra said.
“The Congress has a clear connection with corruption. Wherever corruption happens in India, it goes to 10, Janpath.”
The BJP leader also targeted Congress President Rahul Gandhi and said the party is spreading untruth on the issue of the Rafale fighter jets deal.
“He (Rahul Gandhi) told Parliament that the French president said something in his ears. Within hours, the French government issued a statement exposing his lies. Can there be anything more humiliating than this?” the leader asked.
In another attack, Patra accused the Congress of playing vote bank politics on the controversy surrounding Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Patra said that the Congress did not allow BJP President and Rajya Sabha MP Amit Shah to speak on the NRC issue in the upper House but now they are seeking to have a detailed discussion on NRC in the CWC meeting.
“Is the CWC more important than Parliament?” he asked. (IANS)