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Citizenship Bill does not merit to become an Act: Yashwant

 GUWAHATI, Feb 10 - Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who quit the BJP last year, today said he was sure the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 would not be passed in the ongoing session of Rajya Sabha, as all parties except the BJP were opposed to the Bill and it did not merit becoming an Act on constitutional, legal and ethical grounds – apart from being in stark contrast to the Assam Accord and the ethos of the country.

Delivering a lecture on the ‘State of nation and the way forward’ organised by the Asom Nagarik Samaj, Sinha said people of Assam and the Northeast can rest assured that the present government was not coming back to power at the Centre and the Bill would never become a reality.

“People are opposing the Bill here because it is an existential question for them. Also it is the duty of successive governments to honour the Accord, which has been acquired solemnly by a previous government. It is a national commitment,” he said.

Also a former bureaucrat, Sinha has held the finance and external affairs portfolios in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Cabinet between 1998 and 2004. He quit the BJP in April last year blaming the ‘condition of the party’. He has been vocal against the present NDA government’s policies and way of working.

“The essence of democracy is consensus rather than just numbers. If a Prime Minister does not believe in consensus, he does not believe in democracy,” he said while citing numerous examples of BJP-led government’s “autocratic” policies undermining the values of all democratic institutions.

Sinha said the country was having an undeclared emergency which was worse than the one brought by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “Indira Gandhi’s emergency was a political one, whereas this emergency is combined with mad, violent communalism,” he added.

“In a democracy like ours, the Prime Minister is just first among equals. But in this government the Cabinet is nowhere to be found. The Cabinet Committee on Security, the most powerful among the ministers, has no clues about government policies until it is announced by the Prime Minister to the public.

“The Home Minister had no clue when the BJP broke ties with the PDP in Jammu & Kashmir, and neither when the Naga Framework Agreement was announced. The Defence Minister was not taken into confidence on the Rafale deal when the Prime Minister announced it in Paris. The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had on record said that the Prime Minister has decided it and he will back it. It was the PMO and not the Finance Ministry that manoeuvred the demonetisation. And it is there for all to see that the External Affairs Minister hardly accompanies the Prime Minister in his numerous foreign visits. The Cabinet system, as we understand it, stands completely destroyed,” Sinha mentioned.

Also pointing to the recent developments in some major institutions, he stated that the actual reason behind former RBI Governor Urjit Patel’s resignation and the raid on CBI office are yet to come out and the truth, when it comes out, would be shocking for all.

Sinha also criticised the Narendra Modi government for constantly manipulating data, fudging actual facts. “National Statistics Commission chief’s resignation brought to the fore a major concern on India’s worst employment rate in last 45 years. Demonetisation, certainly, is the single enough reason to throw this government out of power,” he mentioned.

Sinha also spoke on various issues including the Election Commission’s adamancy over ruling out any possibility of EVM hacking, violation of the clauses of the Constitution and its conventions, degeneration of the media as the fourth pillar of democracy, horse trading, etc.

During an interactive session that followed the lecture, he thoroughly opposed the idea of Northeast’s separation from India in the wake of passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “Don't judge India by the acts of this government,” he said.

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