Eight Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left on Friday joined hands to corner the government over its alleged "sinister" move to "strip" Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University of their minority status and slammed Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi on the issue.
MPs from the eight parties also declared that they will launch a signature campaign, approach President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue and will also raise the matter in Parliament in the upcoming Budget session.
In a joint statement, MPs from the Congress, the TMC, the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party, said that they "strongly condemn" and express their displeasure and deep concern against the "nasty" move of the central government to "strip" AMU and JMI of their minority status.
The MPs also condemned the statement of the Attorney General Mukhul Rohtagi over his view that the two institutions are not minority institutions.
"We condemn the statement of the attorney general of India, who has blatantly tried to outrage the rich tradition of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb by mentioning before the Supreme Court that these two institutions are not minority institutions," the MPs said.
Signatories to the joint statement are Pramod Tiwari (Congress), K C Tyagi (JD-U), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress), D P Tripathi (NCP), D Raja (CPI), Jay Prakash Yadav (RJD), Bhagwant Mann (AAP) and Ritabrata Banerjee (CPI-M), according to a press release issued by Tyagi.
The attorney general has told the government that Delhi-based Jamia Milia Islamia is not a minority institution as it was created by an act of Parliament, days after he told the Supreme Court that the legislature never intended the AligarhMuslimUniversity to be a minority institution.
In his opinion to the HRD ministry, Rohatgi is understood to have also quoted a 1967 Supreme Court judgement which had said that AMU is technically not a minority institution and the same principle applied to Jamia Milia Islamia.
The HRD ministry had approached the law ministry seeking an opinion on the issue. The law ministry had then asked the AG for his legal opinion.
Rohatgi had told the apex court over a week ago that in the opinion of the government, AMU is not a minority institution. He said as the executive government at the Centre, it can't be seen as setting up a minority institution in a secular state.
Slamming the AG, the MPs alleged that Rohtagi tried to "undermine" the apex body of democratic India by making a "flimsy" claim that the legislature never intended AMU and JMI to be minority institutions.
The MPs said that they believe that this is a "sinister move" to promote an "unholy agenda" and "dilute" the special character of these two premier seats of learning.
The MPs noted that these two institutions have made an unparalleled contribution towards independence and have contributed to the field of social science, the betterment of minorities and Indian society.
Slamming Rohtagi, they said the "insolent remarks" made (by him) "hurt the secular fabric" of our country, which has pledged to protect the identities of different minorities in multi-cultural India.
"Our next step would be to launch a signature campaign on the issue, which will request the President of India to intervene" into what they said was the "whip of communal forces".
"We also pledge to raise the issue in the forthcoming session of Parliament and fight for the basic rights of minorities as enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution of India," the MPs said reaching out to "all secular minded political parties".
"We appeal to eminent intellectuals, civil society and all secular-minded political parties to condemn this and expose the hidden agenda to sabotage the very idea of India," the MPs said.