New Delhi: Amid a controversy over a bill to curb communal violence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday his government was making efforts to build consensus on “all matters of legislative importance”.
His comments came after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wrote to him seeking “wider consultation” on the bill.
The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, which aims at protecting minorities from targeted attacks, has all along been opposed by the BJP.
“It will be our effort to get broad-based consensus on all matters of great legislative importance,” the prime minister said in response to a question on Modi’s opposition to the bill. He was speaking to reporters ahead of the winter session of parliament that began Thursday.
Modi, in a string of tweets Thursday, said he had written to the prime minister opposing the bill and also questioning its timing.
“Communal violence bill is ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe for disaster! My letter to PM opposing this bill. Have urged the prime minister to seek wider consultation with the states and various stakeholders of the bill before proceeding any further on a bill like this,” Modi said in a tweet.
“Political considerations and vote bank politics rather than genuine concerns are guiding the bill. The timing of the bill is also suspicious,” he said.
Modi also said the bill would violate India’s federal structure.
“The bill is in clear violation of India’s federal structure. The centre is busy forming laws on matters that are in the state list. If a legislation has to be implemented by the states, should it not be legislated by the states? If implemented, the communal violence bill would fragment society and increase violence. It will have results opposite of the stated objective,” he said.
The prime minister, meanwhile, also urged all parties to ensure a smooth parliament session.
“This session of parliament is of a short duration, and therefore it is obligatory for all political parties… to make their best possible effort to (run the) business of the two houses as easily and smoothly as possible.
“We seek the co-operation of all segments of the house for the smooth passing of the essential legislation,” he said.
The winter session is scheduled to end Dec 20.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said: “We will bring the communal violence bill this session, Modi can keep doing his work”.
CPI leader D. Raja said: “This bill has some issues, it is said that this bill overrules the state powers. Then, in case of victims also, there is some issue. I do not think this bill can be brought in the house”.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill was a conspiracy to divide the nation while another party leader Shahnawaz Hussain said: “Congress calls itself secular, all riots happen in their regime”.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said there should be a consensus on the bill before it is brought to parliament.