New Delhi: Facing stiff opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some non-Congress parties over the controversial communal violence Bill, the centre has decided to drop several provisions to ensure that the legislation is neutral between communities and reduced its role in handling of riots.
The centre’s move came even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that the government will try to evolve a broad-based consensus on issues which are of “great” legislative importance on a day when the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi dubbed the Bill as a “recipe for disaster”.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government will bring the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013, in the current winter session of Parliament.
Singh spoke of consensus as he sought the cooperation of all sections of Parliament to ensure smooth passage of the planned legislations like the Bills relating to communal violence and women’s reservation.
Government officials said the fresh initiative to amend the provisions of the draft Bill has been taken in the wake of criticism by the BJP, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa.
The draft Bill is now made neutral between all groups or communities and the central government will not have any perceived overriding powers anywhere.
The earlier version of the Bill specifically mentioned that the onus of riots lay on the majority community.
People familiar with the development claimed the Bill is not hitting the federal structure of the country as feared and the central government’s role will largely be of coordination and will act only when the state government seeks help.
The fresh draft says, “If the state government is of the opinion that assistance of the central government is required for controlling the communal violence, it may seek the assistance of the central government to deploy armed forces of the Union for such purposes…”
Earlier, the centre was given unilateral powers to send central paramilitary forces during the outbreak of communal violence without consulting the state government.
The BJP has maintained it will oppose the legislation when it comes up for discussion in Parliament on the ground that it would be a “threat to India’s communal harmony”.
“Communal violence Bill is ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe for disaster,” Modi said in his letter to Singh. “The timing to bring the Bill is suspicious owing to political considerations and vote bank politics, rather than genuine concerns.”
Shinde, when asked to comment on Modi’s attack, said, “We will bring the communal violence Bill in this session. Modi can keep doing his work.”