Accusing the Centre of undermining the accepted norms of governance and institutional integrity, representatives of 13 Opposition parties on Wednesday approached President Pranab Mukherjee and apprised him of their concerns on various issues, including “gagging of Opposition voices, cow vigilantism and moral policing by UP’s anti-Romeo squads”.
The delegation also complained of “tampering of EVMs” and demanded that ballot papers be used for elections. After the BJP routed the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh elections, the Opposition has been screaming hoarse over alleged tampering of EVMs.
The delegation, which included top leaders such as Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her deputy Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said that an environment of fear and insecurity was prevailing in the country. It alleged that the “lumpen elements” were “masquerading as vigilantes”.
Besides the Congress, other parties part of the delegation included, TMC, SP, BSP, Left, JD(U), DMK, NCP, RJD and other smaller outfits. This incidentally was also being viewed as a signal for Opposition unity against Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2019 general elections.
As for EVMs, information and broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu hit out at the Opposition asking, “How come there were no complaints about EVMs when AAP won the Delhi polls and JD(U)-Congress alliance won in Bihar”. He said: “EVMs are to be blamed when NDA wins.”
The delegation submitted a memorandum to the President accusing the Modi government of “triggering false debates, manufacturing post-truths, orchestrating inflammatory narratives on nationalism and exploiting religious sentiments” Alleging that an “environment of fear and insecurity was prevailing in the country”, the memorandum also accused the Centre of “muzzling voices of dissent, and threats of violence to the citizens”.
It claimed that the government was “vitiating the environment and jeopardising the cause of peace and security”.
The delegation also hit out at the government for “using ED, CBI and IT raids to fix Opposition parties” After the meeting, Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that the government “does not want to let any Opposition party exist in the country”.
Mr Azad while briefing the media after the meeting said that “lumpen elements were indulging in violence, lynching and people were being harassed across the country”. He also spoke of lynching incidents in Alwar, Una, Dadri and Udhampur.
The memorandum alleged that “critical appointments were made in brazen disregard of established procedures and practices”, and appointments in central investigating, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are being done with the sole purpose to further an agenda of vendetta against political rivals. It said that “India is witnessing a disturbing centralisation of authority and emergence of an authoritarian model of governance”, and accused the government of “launching a frontal attack on the autonomy of universities, cultural and historical institutions”.