Communal Violence Bill dangerous: BJP
At a meeting of National Integration Council where the issue was on the agenda, NDA and chief Ministers of the states ruled by it -- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Punjab expressed opposition to the draft legislation in its current form.Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who also attended the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the proposed legislation was "dangerous" as it would "encourage communalism" rather than curbing it by furthering the divide between majority and minority communities.
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Image: Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj
'Bill gives impression that majority community behind communal incidents'
Opposing the Bill, Chief Minister of BJD-ruled Orissa Naveen Patnaik, said it has some "objectionable" provisions which "directly affect the autonomy of states".
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, whose speech was read out in absentia, said, "It is not the opportune moment to comment on the Bill".
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar voiced concern over certain provisions in the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Regulations) Bill 2011, saying it may create "impression" among the people at large that majority community is "always responsible for communal incidents."
Image: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
'Bill intended to meet vested interests'
He specifically opposed the provision for promulgation of Article 355 of the Constitution, which gives the Centre a right to intervene, in a limited area during "internal disturbance", saying it amounted to "unnecessary interference in state's jurisdiction".
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Bill was intended to meet "vested interests" and may undermine the country's federal structure.
"The Bill expresses feeling of mistrust in the state government machinery and lacks clarity in defining crimes for organised communal violence," he said."I urge the Union government to have faith in the state governments and strengthen them, which in turn will strengthen the nation. If state governments are weakened to serve some vested interests, the nation will become weak and it will give impetus to parochial forces," Chauhan said.
Image: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan
'Bill is against India's federal structure'
"The proposed Bill has many structural loopholes. The biggest problem is that this Bill is against India's federal structure. The national authority set up with the help of this Bill will have the power to issue directions to any state authority for any investigation," he said.
He said that the power of maintaining law and order situation stays with a particular state and changes in this system will bring unfavourable results in the long term.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank asked the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram to give up their desire to pass the Bill in its present form, saying the legislation would be a "big blow" to national integration.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal said the Bill that the government was trying to bring could lead to "avoidable confrontation" between the Centre and states as sections of it were a "direct transgression of states' authority".
He also particularly expressed opposition to provision for invoking Article 355.
Image: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh