Sonia says Centre, Delhi govt responsible for violence; demands Shah’s resignation
New Delhi, Feb 26: Holding the Central and the Delhi governments responsible for the communal violence in the city that has left at least 22 dead, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday demanded Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation as she addressed a rare press conference.
She spoke to the media after chairing a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, and alleged there was a “well-planned” conspiracy behind the violence, that has also led to injuries to more than 200 people over the past three days.
The CWC, the highest decision-making body of the Congress, deliberated on the issue and passed a resolution, demanding answers from both the governments, while also urging the people of Delhi to “reject the politics of hate and do their best in healing the rifts caused by these shameful events”.
“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 (the CWC) calls upon the Home Minister to tender his resignation immediately,” said Gandhi, reading out the CWC resolution.
She went on to attack the AAP dispensation, saying 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 said.
The Congress had planned to march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan after the CWC meet to hand over a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind over the issue, but they postponed it as the President gave them time for a meeting on Thursday.
But, the Delhi Congress took out a peace march from the party headquarters later in the day with many leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in attendance.
The Congress president also hit out at BJP leader Kapil Mishra for making a statement that allegedly incited the violence in the city.
“The conspiracy was witnessed during Delhi polls and BJP leaders gave hate speeches creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred. On Sunday, a BJP leader gave inflammatory speech, giving a three-day ultimatum to Delhi Police,” she said.
“The deliberate inaction of the Central and State governments in the last 72 hours has resulted in 20 lives being been lost so far,” she said.
The Centre, the home minister and the Delhi government are responsible for the situation in the national capital, the Congress chief said.
“Union Home Minister Shah must take responsibility for the violence in Delhi and resign,” she said.
“The CWC demands answers to questions — Where was the Home Minister and what was he doing since last Sunday? Where was the Chief Minister of Delhi and what was he doing since last Sunday?” she said.
Gandhi asked what were the reports given by intelligence agencies in the days immediately after the Delhi elections and leading upto today, and also what was the strength of the police force deployed on Sunday night when there were clear indications that violence will break out.
“Why were additional security forces not called immediately when it was clear that the situation was beyond the control of the Delhi police,” the Congress chief asked.
On whether the Congress is demanding deployment of the Army in riot-hit areas, Gandhi said the CWC resolution mentions the need to deploy paramilitary forces. “The first step is paramilitary forces,” she said.
Gandhi also found the “silence” of the top leadership in the Central and the Delhi governments “rather shocking”.
“Though I have seen some comments on social media, formally nobody has come out with a positive message,” she said.
She said that during the Vajpayee Government, whenever there was any such crisis, be it Kashmir or any other issue, the first thing the former BJP stalwart would do was to call an all-party meeting.
“He, himself, on many occasions actually took those meetings. But, unfortunately and sadly, we have to say that ever since the Modi government has come in, as far as I know, no such meeting has ever been called.
“The only one was recently when the Home Minister called a meeting and I think he called only the Delhi representatives, not an all party meeting. It is a sad fact but it is the truth,” she said.
The CWC resolution also appealed to the people of Delhi to “reject the politics of hate and…to help rebuild all that has been lost and to ensure that such events do not take place ever again”.
It also called upon party leaders and workers to visit the violence-hit areas and extend all support to the affected families and to help build bridges among communities.
“This would be the most fitting tribute to Mother India,” she said.
“The CWC believes the situation is grave and an urgent action is required and adequate security forces must be deployed to bring situation under control and peace committees must be formed in mohallas,” Gandhi said, reading out from the CWC resolution.
The Delhi chief minister must be visible in the affected areas and be in constant communication with the people, she said.
This is the Congress president’s first press conference at the AICC headquarters in many years.