Talk things out, strike a consensus. Government must convene all-party meeting

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the reckless flagging of a National Register of Citizens has created a political stalemate. The opposition is meeting to firm up its strategy against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made another steadfast defence of the law even as home minister Amit Shah launched visceral broadsides against anti-CAA protesters.

With neither side in a mood for concession, the divide will hurt the country badly. Unlike a year or so earlier opposition and regional parties, including BJP allies and neutral players, are in a stronger position. Upping the stakes by the Centre or states will strain federalism. Even those who supported CAA earlier like JD(U) and Akali Dal may be beginning to sing a different tune.

For over a month now India has been beset by tensions spawned by the CAA. Meanwhile, the economic situation continues to be dire. This would have been a good occasion for the government to bring opposition parties on board for consensus on much-needed economic reforms. But unfortunately, CAA is the talking point. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has again relaunched his “suit boot ki sarkar” attack. The last time it unnerved the government enough to pull back from the Land Acquisition Act amendments. The government must convene an all party meeting before the Budget session for a way out of the CAA-fuelled outrage and prepare an overall economic roadmap akin to the 1991 economic reforms. Any further delay will be costly.

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