Now Opposition zooming in on Goyal and SC/ST Act
The discontent brewing among Dalit MPs, inclusive of those on ruling party’s side, and in Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s camp, has given the Opposition a chance to embarrass the government. Paswan had gathered the Dalit MPs at his official residence to demand Justice A K Goyal’s removal as the National Green Tribunal chief, plus an amendment/ordinance to restore the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act to its original form. The opposition has back-channelled an offer to help Paswan up the ante. He’s scheduled to meet the PM. As Justice Goyal was part of the Supreme Court Bench which diluted the Act, his appointment is not being seen in good light by Dalit leaders.
On Thursday, the opposition discussed the strategy to take up the issue, particularly in view of the All India Ambedkar Mahasabha’s bandh on August 9. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s line that the government “is determined to protect Dalits” had “no hand” in the dilution of the Act (in response to CPI’s D Raja’s query) has cut little ice. BSP leaders cited the growing incidents of lynching against Dalits. The Congress which had earlier blamed the government for not putting up a proper legal counter in Supreme Court when the case was heard, plans to ratchet up the issue. An opposition leader claimed Paswan was preparing ground to follow in Chandrababu Naidu’s footsteps, if he cannot have his way over the Act.
Though Ghulam Nabi Azad had a hard-hitting speech on the phenomenon of fake news and the role it has in inciting mob violence, TMC’s Derek O’Brien stole his thunder. MP of Didi’s party who blamed the BJP for creating an army of digital mob in 2014, which has gone out of hand, was much feted after his speech. Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, reeled out statistics and steps taken to stop fake news. He kept repeating himself in Central Hall to drive home the point.
It seems, BJP Ministers and MPs have been directed not to indulge in loose talk or chat with media when the session is on and spend time in Parliament library instead. Not that, it’s being followed!