The bill to prevent communal violence is not a vote-catching gimmick and will help control aberrations that occur during outbreaks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday.
"It is not a vote-catching gimmick. I think, in the last five or six years we have been grappling with the problems of communal riots in some or the other part of the country," Manmohan Singh said during an interactive session at the HT Leadership Summit while replying to a question on the government's proposal to introduce the bill.
The prime minister's response came a day after Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi wrote a letter in which he described the bill "as a recipe for disaster".
The letter, written to the prime minister, was released by the BJP Thursday. The government intends to introduce the revised bill in the winter session of parliament despite BJP's strong opposition.
Several state chief ministers have voiced their strong opposition to the bill, saying it would be destructive to the federal structure of the constitution. The prime minister said the government wants to create an environment of greater accountability to prevent communal conflagrations. "Our effort has been to create an environment where officials would have the responsibility to look after the law and order situation as effectively as is humanly possible," he said.
The prime minister said that if riots cannot be prevented, there should be adequate compensation for the victims. "So, I think these are two basic principles which underline the purpose of the communal violence bill. I think it is a bill whose time has come," Manmohan Singh said. "What happened in Muzaffarnagar and some other parts of our country is a reminder that although as a country we can take pride in our ability to protect all the people of our country, yet there are times when aberrations take place," he said.
"This bill, if it is passed by the parliament, will help control those aberrations," he added.
Modi had said that the bill is "ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe for disaster" and had urged the prime minister to seek wider consultation with the states and various stakeholders before proceeding further on the legislation.
Home Ministry officials said the revised bill will address apprehensions of opposition parties about the bill.