Mumbai: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has criticised the Narendra Modi government for not taking the opposition into confidence on key issues like the scrapping of Article 370 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
In an interview to PTI, the Congress leader also expressed concern over the economic “slowdown” in the country, and said the BJP-led NDA government’s approach towards running the country is “not good”.
In a democracy, people’s views and the opposition do matter, and dissent against the government cannot be silenced by filing sedition cases or calling people anti-national’, Gehlot said.
He accused the Modi government of playing “politics of polarisation” instead of focusing on governance, and seeking to stop funds of the opposition parties using threats of Income Tax raids.
Gehlot also alleged that the electoral bonds was the “biggest scandal” of the NDA government.
“For scrapping of Article 370 or the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the opposition wasn’t taken on board.
Involvement should have been there. At least, the opposition could have put forth its views,” said the Rajasthan chief minister, who assumed office last December.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there, was passed in the Lok Sabha a little past midnight on Monday.
The Centre in August abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Gehlot said the BJP (earlier) had an alliance government with People’s Democratic Party, but (after abrogation of Article 370) leaders of the PDP and National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir were “detained” .
“The Centre should have spoken to them. But, the government doesn’t care. If you have a thumping majority, it doesn’t mean you can do what you like,” the 68-year-old Congress veteran said.
“Dissent against the government cannot be silenced by filing sedition cases against individuals and calling them anti-national. This kind of approach is not right for the country’s interests,” he said.
He also alleged that the electoral bonds was the “biggest scandal” of the NDA government.
“Political funding, whether in cash, cheque or bond is not good. Corruption will end only if there is state funding of elections…(then) there will be transparency,” he said.
Gehlot said unemployment, “collapse” of the economy and farmers not getting money for their produce were some of the biggest issues being faced by the country.
“The Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana were fought on issues like Article 370 and nationalism. The BJP felt it will win hands down. But, people have an extraordinary robust common sense. Arrogance doesn’t work,” he said.
He accused the Modi government of stopping funds of the opposition parties.
Admitting that the Congress faced a huge setback in the Lok Sabha polls, Gehlot also charged the BJP with trying to finish the opposition parties by targeting them through agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax raids.
“Those who give funds to the Congress and other parties are hounded by threats of I-T raids, CBI and ED inquiries,” he alleged.
He said the Congress does not have resources as funding to the opposition parties has stopped.
Gehlot said the Union government has slashed central funds to states because of drop in revenue generation.
“Rajasthan will get around Rs 11,000 crore less,” the chief minister claimed.
The Congress leader said the recent comments of industrialist Rahul Bajaj and former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan highlight what people feel about the government.
Bajaj earlier this month said India Inc was afraid of criticising the Narendra Modi government.
Rajan recently said India is in the midst of a “growth recession” with signs of deep malaise in the economy that is being run through extreme centralisation of power in the Prime Minister’s Office and powerless ministers.
“The atmosphere of fear is also a reason for the economic slowdown. When there is a divide in the social fabric, then such a situation is there,” Gehlot said.
He said the Congress will organise a rally in New Delhi on December 14 to highlight various issues plaguing the country.