Rahul Gandhi dares PM Modi as Oppn seeks to halt NPR

Rahul Gandhi dares PM Modi as Oppn seeks to halt NPR

Rahul Gandhi (AFP Photo)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit any university without security, even as more than a dozen political parties urged chief ministers of non-BJP states to suspend the process to update the National Population Register (NPR).

But the strategy meeting called by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to discuss Citizenship Amendment Act and student protests was given a miss by key allies DMK and Samajwadi Party, which took the sheen off Rahul's tirade and exposed the chinks in the Opposition armour.

A joint statement issued after the meeting urged citizens to come out in large numbers to protect the Constitution on January 23 – birth anniversary of Netaji Subhaschandra Bose, January 26 – the Republic Day and January 30 – Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary.

In her opening remarks, the Congress President said the Modi-Shah government stood “completely exposed for its inability to govern and to provide security to the people”.

“The real issue facing India today is the collapse of the economic activity and slowing growth … the Prime Minister and Home Minister have no answers and want to divert the nation's attention from this grim reality by raising one divisive and polarising issue after another,” Sonia said.

Rahul launched a sharp attack on Modi, daring him to visit country's universities, which have been in turmoil, "without his police".

“I challenge the Prime Minister right now, to go to any university, stand over there without his police, without his infrastructure and tell the people what he is going to do for this country,” Rahul told reporters.

"Unfortunately, the prime minister of the country does not have the guts to do this," Rahul said.

Opposition meet

On Monday, several parties skipped the strategy meet called by Sonia. But the Congress put up a brave face, claiming that leaders of 20 Opposition parties had attended the meeting.

Besides the DMK and the SP, key opposition players Trinamool Congress, Mayawati's BSP and latest entrant to the opposition block the Shiv Sena also did not send their representatives to the meeting.

With Delhi elections next month, Congress did not even bother to call the AAP, which otherwise sticks with the opposition block in Parliament.

“We are all together on these issues,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on key absentees at the meeting.

A senior Congress leader said its all weather ally the DMK was upset at certain remarks made by the Tamil Nadu Congress President K S Alagiri on the local body elections in the state. Congress tried to placate the DMK by asking Alagiri to issue a clarification, but that failed to mollify the coalition partner.

The SP is reportedly in talks with the AAP for an alliance to get a foothold in Delhi, which prompted it to stay away from the meeting convened by Gandhi.

A communication gap was said to be the reason for the Shiv Sena staying away. However, sources said the latest entrant to the Opposition camp was not too keen and had offered to send its leader Priyanka Chaturvedi for the meeting, which was declined. Chaturvedi, a frontline Congress spokesperson, had quit the party to join the Shiv Sena ahead of the Lok Sabha elections last year.

Mayawati is upset at the Congress for poaching its MLAs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The BSP supremo had made it clear that she would not attend the meeting convened by the Congress President.

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee also distanced herself from the meeting, accusing the Congress and the CPI(M) of indulging in “dirty politics” after the violence during the Bharat Bandh last Wednesday.

With Delhi elections due next month, Congress did not even bother to call the AAP, which otherwise sticks with the Opposition block in Parliament.

“We are all together on these issues,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on key absentees at the meeting.

A senior Congress leader said its all-weather ally, the DMK, was upset at certain remarks made by Tamil Nadu Congress president K S Alagiri on the local body elections in the state. Congress tried to placate the DMK by asking Alagiri to issue a clarification, but that failed to mollify the coalition partner.

The SP is reportedly in talks with the AAP for an alliance to get a foothold in Delhi, which prompted it to stay away from the meeting.

A communication gap was said to be the reason for the Shiv Sena staying away. However, sources said Shiv Sena was not too keen and had offered to send its leader Priyanka Chaturvedi for the meeting, which was declined. Chaturvedi, a frontline Congress spokesperson, had quit the party to join the Shiv Sena last year.

Mayawati is upset at the Congress for poaching its MLAs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, hence did not attend the meet.

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee stayed away from the meeting, accusing the Congress and the CPM of indulging in “dirty politics” after the violence during the Bharat Bandh last week.

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