The party members observed a one-minute silence in support of their cause and against the BJP-led government’s policies
NEW DELHI, Dec 23 (AGENCIES): The top Congress leadership, led by party chief Sonia Gandhi, sat on a “Satyagraha for Unity” at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat here on Monday, demanding protection of the rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.
Top Congress leaders, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, participated in the “Satyagraha”, which was also meant to express solidarity with the youth and students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed countrywide NRC as well as against the police “atrocities” on them.
Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi read out the Preamble to the Constitution of India as part of the “Satyagraha” protest.
The party members also observed a one-minute silence in support of their cause and against the BJP-led government’s policies.
Sonia Gandhi, however, was not present throughout the protest and left after about an hour.
After reading out the Preamble in Hindi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in the names of all those “martyred” during the anti-CAA protests, her party resolved to protect the Constitution.
“In the name of Bijnor’s 22-year-old Anas, who used to earn money for his family through a coffee-vending machine and had recently gotten married. In the name of 21-year-old Suleiman, who was studying for the UPSC exam and used to take tuition,” she said.
On Sunday, Suleiman’s mother told her with tear-filled eyes that her son was “martyred” for his country, she added.
“In the names of all the children who have been martyred in this movement. In the name of Bijnor’s Omraj Saini, whose five children are waiting for him and he is in the hospital, injured. In their names, we resolve today that we will protect the Constitution and will not allow it to be destroyed,” the Congress general secretary said.
Another Congress general secretary, K C Venugopal, said the programme was organised to remind the government about the strength of India’s Constitution.
“This is to show solidarity with all the students of the country who are agitating for the cause of freedom of speech and expression. The country is going through a very difficult period because of the bad policies of this government.
“Our workers are here to express solidarity with our students, youth and those suffering due to the bad policies of the government, especially those protesting against the amended Citizenship Act,” he said.
Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, senior party leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, Digvijaya Singh, Mukul Wasnik, K C Venugopal, Meira Kumar, besides Congress Working Committee (CWC) members, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries and the party’s state in-charges took part in the “Satyagraha”.
Some religious leaders were also present at the spot.
The leaders and workers of the party, who sat under the shadow of a huge national flag, joined the top leaders in reading out the Preamble to the Constitution.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath asserted that their governments will not implement the amended Citizenship Act in the Congress-ruled states as it was against the basic principles of the Constitution.
Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo, on behalf of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, said the CAA and NRC will not be implemented in his state either.
The Congress had on Friday said the “unconstitutional” legislation will not be implemented in the party-ruled states.
“The identity of India is through its Constitution. We reject this law, and while respecting the Constitution, our government will not implement it,” Nath said amid loud cheers from the crowd.
Gehlot alleged that an atmosphere of fear was created by the BJP-led government and that democracy was in danger.
“The prime minister is misleading people over the NRC, saying it was not discussed, while the home minister is saying that the NRC will be implemented. The country understands that they want to divide it on religious lines,” he said.
“This is an RSS agenda that they want to implement, but the country will not accept it. They should be ready to face that the country will rebel. In Rajasthan, the CAA and the NRC will not be implemented as they are against the basic principles of the Constitution,” Gehlot said, alleging that the ruling BJP used the “mask of democracy” to win elections.
The party held that in line with the path of non-violence shown by Mahatma Gandhi, it would fight against the “dictatorial” government and to protect the “sacred” Constitution.
The Congress said there was widespread resentment against the recent actions of the government and people across the country, especially youngsters, were demanding restoration and maintaining the sanctity of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
It also stood in support of the students protesting against the government and the use of “indiscriminate police force” against ordinary citizens in the name of maintaining law and order, the party said, adding that this had led to further worsening of the situation.
The party was up against the government for using “brute” force against “silent and peaceful” protesters across the country and for “stopping” people from holding demonstrations against the new citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), proposed to be implemented across the country, it added.