The Congress Working Committee will meet on Saturday — for the second time in two weeks — to discuss the political controversy triggered by the publication of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the party’s response to the development and deliberate on ways to scale up the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal and the job situation.
There is unease among a section of the leaders in the manner in which the NRC issue has played out, especially since the ruling BJP has tried to frame it into a binary and asked the Congress whether it was for protecting illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The opinion is divided in the Congress and leaders hope the CWC will bring clarity.
Leaders from Assam argue illegal immigration was a sensitive topic in the state and hence the party should come out aggressively stating that the NRC was its brainchild but its implementation was mishandled by the BJP governments at the Centre and the state. Another section argues that the party should not focus much on the NRC and exclusion of 40 lakh people, arguing it would amount to playing into the hands of the BJP, which they allege is trying to use the issue to polarise on religious lines outside Assam.
The aggressive stance adopted by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — accusing the BJP of trying to provoke a civil war — has also put the Congress in a quandary. A section of the Congress argues that the party should clearly distinguish its line from that of the Trinamool Congress chief, who it believes stands to gain in Bengal with such a belligerent posture. In fact, Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora on Wednesday condemned her statement and argued that Assam is a peaceful state.
Also on the agenda of the CWC is the Rafale deal, an issue the party is desperately trying to keep alive. On Tuesday, it had urged other opposition parties to speak up on the Rafale issue. It was decided that leaders of opposition parties will address a joint press conference soon. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also said to be planning to host a dinner for opposition leaders.
The CWC will also discuss the current political and economic situation, especially the job situation. Party chief Rahul Gandhi has been consistently attacking the Prime Minister over the job situation, claiming that unemployment rates have gone up.