AAP Delhi ordinance
The AAP on Friday skipped the press briefing after the Opposition meeting and came out with a statement, slamming the Congress's silence over the Delhi central ordinance | File photo

Oppn meet attendees rubbish AAP charges against Cong over Ordinance

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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may be sulking over the Congress’s alleged silence over the Delhi Ordinance issue, but the other Opposition parties seem unimpressed.

At least five leaders, who represented their respective parties at Friday’s meeting hosted by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said the AAP’s attacks on the Congress over the ordinance, which seeks to curtail the powers of the Delhi government, were unjustified.

“It is very unfortunate that the AAP seems to be looking at the issue through the prism of rivalry with Congress in Delhi and Punjab,” said CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar.

He said it was wrong on AAP’s part to say in an official statement that the Congress refused to oppose the ordinance at the meeting, despite being asked to do so by many parties.

“All parties were unanimous in the condemnation of the ordinance. But the AAP leadership must place the issue in a broader context. It is about the attacks on the Constitution and the principal of federalism by the BJP government, a reason why we all buried our differences and joined hands,” said the Left leader.

“J&K leaders showed maturity”

The AAP on Friday skipped the press briefing after the Opposition meeting and came out with a statement, slamming the Congress’s silence over the Delhi central ordinance. The statement noted that among the parties that attended the meeting, 12 have representation in the Rajya Sabha and except for the Congress, all others have announced that they would oppose the ordinance in the Rajya Sabha.

“I would admire the maturity shown by our friends from Jammu and Kashmir, who did recall with pain that the AAP had voted in favour of the Bill, in Parliament, that stripped the northern state of its special status, its statehood, and its integrity,” Dipankar said.

The Left leader also said he had requested the AAP delegation to stay back for the press conference after the meeting. “They did not agree to do so. But we are happy that overall, the meeting remained fruitful,” the CPI(ML) Liberation leader said.

“Congress, too, criticised ordinance”

CPI general secretary D Raja, who was also present at the meeting, agreed that all parties, without exception, did criticise the ordinance.

“The Congress, too, was with us in criticising the ordinance, which aims at snatching power away from an elected government. In all probability, all parties present at the meeting will vote against a bill seeking to replace the ordinance. The Congress may just be taking its own time to make a public announcement to the effect,” Raja said.

He also took exception to a section of the media using the word “boycott” to describe AAP’s stance and asserted that Kejriwal and his colleagues were present all through the meeting and had lunch with everyone else. “They did leave early because of other engagements elsewhere,” he added.

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Similar views were expressed by People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, one of the two delegates from Jammu and Kashmir, the other being Omar Abdullah of the National Conference.

“Arvind Kejriwal did raise the issue of the ordinance at the meeting. Nobody flinched from criticising the ordinance. I also did not hold a grudge against his party having voted in favour of scrapping of Article 370. Though the agenda of the meeting was opposition unity,” she said.

“All parties agreed to meet again in Shimla”

Another attendee of the meeting, Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalan, national president of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), noted that the ordinance was never the main agenda. “Though Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to have a personal opinion and act on that,” he said.

Lalan also replied to former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi’s allegation that leaders like (RJD president) Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, “who had fought the Congress during Emergency are now aligning with the same party.”

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Lalan pointed out that it was not the Congress they had fought against. “We were fighting against the assault on democracy, and the Jana Sangh, the BJP’s previous avatar, was with us in that fight. Now that they are guilty of the same offence, we must fight against them. Nitish Kumar had vowed to defeat the BJP upon snapping ties with that party. On Friday, all parties lent support to his drive.”

Kumar’s deputy Tejashwi Yadav claimed that nobody showed any bitterness. “All issues were discussed in a cordial manner and all parties agreed to meet again in Shimla to take the fight against fascist forces forward,” he added.

(With agency inputs)

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