Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rahul Gandhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and others come out after the opposition party meeting, in New Delhi on Monday. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday said the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the NRC reflect “widespread frustration and pent up anger of people” and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of misleading people and making “provocative statements.”

In a hard-hitting attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre during her speech at the meeting of “like-minded” opposition parties here, Gandhi alleged that the government has “let loose a reign of oppression, spreading hatred” and was “trying to divide our people along sectarian lines.”

Gandhi said that there was unprecedented turmoil and the students were being targeted. She also accused the government of diverting attention from the real issues.

The Prime Minister and the Home Minister have misled the people. They have contradicted their own statements of only weeks ago, and continue with their provocative statements

- Sonia Gandhi

“There is unprecedented turmoil today. The Constitution is being undermined and the instruments of governance are being misused. Students and the young have in particular been targeted. In several parts of the country, especially in Uttar Pradesh, large sections of the population are being harassed and attacked,” she said.

She termed the protests against CAA spontaneous and accused the police in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi of being “partisan and brutal.”

“There have been nationwide spontaneous protests by the youth supported by citizens from all walks of life. The immediate cause is CAA and NRC but they reflect widespread frustration and pent up anger, which is now out in the open. The response of the police in UP and Delhi has been shockingly partisan and brutal,” she said.

Gandhi alleged that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have been insensitive to “state suppression and violence”.

“The Prime Minister and the Home Minister have misled the people. They have contradicted their own statements of only weeks ago, and continue with their provocative statements while remaining insensitive to the state suppression and violence that is increasingly becoming commonplace,” Gandhi said.

The Congress chief accused the government of “inability to govern”.

“The nation has watched in horror at the BJP-orchestrated assault on JNU coming so soon after what happened in Jamia, BHU, Allahabad University and AMU and other institutions of higher learning in other parts of the country. The Modi-Shah Government stands totally exposed for its inability to govern and to provide security to the people,” she said.

Gandhi said the NRC seems to have back-fired in Assam. “The Modi-Shah government is now focusing on the NPR exercise that is scheduled to begin in a few months. Contrary to the assertions of the Home Minister, it is clear that this is being done to lead to a nationwide NRC,” she said.

The Congress leader said that the real issue facing people was the slowing of economic growth.

“The real issue facing India today is the collapse of economic activity and slowing growth and development affecting all sections of society, especially the poor and disadvantaged. The Prime Minister and the 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. It is for us to work together and thwart the designs of this government,” she said.

The meeting is being attended by leaders of 20 opposition parties.

The meeting deliberated on the current political situation following widespread protests against the amended Citizenship Act and the violence on campuses.

Significantly, the BSP, the AAP and the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC stayed away from the meeting attended by representatives of 20 parties.

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, JMM leader and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, LJD chief Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party leader Upendra Kushwaha, RJD leader Manoj Jha, National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi, besides Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel and former prime minister Manmohan Singh were among those present.