Sonia asks Shah to quit, says Kejriwal to blame too

The Asian Age.  | Sreeparna Chakrabarty

India, All India

The CPI(M) and Nationalist Congress Party also asked Shah to resign, taking responsibility for the violence.

Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi: More than 72 hours after riots broke out in several areas of northeast Delhi, the Opposition came out with its first credible reaction on Wednesday as Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed one of her rare structured press conferences, where she demanded the resignation of Union home minister Amit Shah for the violence in the national capital. The CPI(M) and Nationalist Congress Party also asked Mr Shah to resign, taking responsibility for the violence.

The Congress plans to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday and put forward their demands on the situation in Delhi. Other Opposition leaders, like Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, LJP’s Sharad Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury as well as leaders of the DMK and NCP have also sought time from President Ram Nath Kovind.

On Wednesday, the Congress’ Delhi unit also organised a peace march from the AICC headquarters. Many senior leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, joined the march, which was stopped at Janpath, where Ms Vadra sat on a dharna.

Earlier, a meeting of the Congress Working Committee was held, after which Mrs Gandhi addressed possibly her first structured press conference at the AICC office. The CWC observed a minute’s silence over the Delhi deaths. Alleging there was a “well-planned” conspiracy behind the violence, Mrs Gandhi demanded the immediate resignation of the home minister. “After reviewing the situation, the CWC is of the firm opinion that what has happened in Delhi is a colossal failure of duty for which the entire responsibility must be borne by the Central government, and particularly the home minister, and calls upon the home minister to tender his resignation immediately,” Mrs Gandhi said, reading out the CWC resolution.

She also attacked the Aam Aadmi Party, asserting that chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his government are “equally responsible for not activating the administration” to reach out to the people to maintain peace and harmony.

“It is the collective failure of the two governments that has resulted in a great tragedy in the capital city which threatens to become worse by the day,” she read out from the CWC resolution.

Mrs Gandhi also called out BJP leader Kapil Mishra for his statement that she claimed incited the violence in the city. “The conspiracy was witnessed during the Delhi polls and BJP leaders gave hate speeches, creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred. On Sunday, a BJP leader has given an inflammatory speech by giving a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi police,” she said.

The BJP hit back, accusing the Congress president of playing “dirty politics” by targeting the Narendra Modi government over the violence in Delhi.

Addressing Congress workers who sat on dharna with her at Janpath, Ms Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the Centre of having failed to maintain peace in the capital. She also accused the government of having “destroyed” Delhi, where people come from across the country in order to seek employment.

The CPI(M), meanwhile, demanded that the Army be deployed immediately to contain the situation. “There is nothing spontaneous about the violence. On Sunday, local BJP leader Kapil Mishra made a provocative speech in the presence of a senior police officer at Jaffrabad, threatening to remove anti-CAA protesters. Yet the police was unprepared to meet the situation,” the CPI(M) politburo said in a statement.

CPI general secretary D. Raja said: “The line of ‘raj dharma’ is being violated again, now in Delhi.”

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