Opposing the proposed Communal Violence Bill, Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying it is “ill-conceived, poorly drafted” and “a recipe for disaster”.
“Coming just a couple of months before the expected announcement of the next general elections, it makes the move look very suspicious. It is almost a giveaway that the move to introduce the Bill is based on political considerations dictated by votebank politics rather than genuine concern for preventing communal violence,” Modi said in his letter, adding that “there have been no communal riots or major incidents of communal violence in Gujarat for the last ten years now”.
“The provisions of the proposed Bill will have a consequence of further polarising Indian society on religious and linguistic lines; the religious and linguistic identities will become more reinforced and even ordinary incidents of violence will be given communal colour to benefit from the provisions of the proposed law. In short, this law will end up achieving just the opposite of its intended objective: it will increase communal violence and fragment Indian society further,” he said.
“The proposed Bill seeks to undermine the basic constitutional tenet of equality before law by attempting to create different classes of citizens based on religion. If A murders or rapes B, law has to apply similarly, regardless of the religious and linguistic identities of A and B; and the equal application of law includes both substantive law and procedural law,” said the letter.
Modi further stated that the Bill reflects the Centre’s “contempt for the federal structure and the separation of powers”, adding that “the Government of India seems to be under some compulsion to encroach upon the issues in the state list”. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is also learnt to have objected to the Bill on this ground among others.
Urging Singh “to have a wider consultation with the state governments, political parties and the police and security agencies before proceeding further”, Modi said the Centre, at best, should limit itself to “consider preparing a model Bill and circulate it to state governments”. “However, the circulated Bill can be called anything but a model law. It is a case study on poor conceptualisation and even poorer drafting. In short, it is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Modi also brought out various operational issues and shortcomings in the proposed Bill. “Section 3(f) which defines ‘hostile