NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday accused the Centre of giving a jolt to the country's unity with the Citizenship Amendment Act, and called for answering the government's "dictatorial" policies with Mahatma Gandhi's way of non-violence.
Pawar made the remarks as he flagged off the 'Gandhi Shanti Yatra' -- undertaken by former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) -- from the Gateway of India here.
He said the recent violence at JNU has hurt sentiments of the students' community.
"The government is using dictatorial policies. What happened in JNU is being opposed across the country. The government's dictatorship needs to be answered with Gandhiji's way of non-violence," a statement said quoting Pawar.
The Maratha strongman termed all Indian citizens as "representatives of independent India and shareholders of the country", and claimed the government has left people disappointed with its move like the CAA.
He claimed that a big section of society was feeling disappointed with the government, as he referred to protests over CAA.
"Some steps taken by the central government have given a jolt to the country's unity. Members of some small sections of the society feel their interests are not being protected," Pawar said, apparently referring to the CAA.
The former Union minister noted there are members of several sections of societies, including the minorities, who cannot tell where they came from and where they will live.
"They will be forced to live in some camps (detention centres allegedly to be set up by the government). The government has left disappointed representatives of the Independent India and shareholders of the country. Hence, we need to create awareness in society, need to ensure unity among all sections of society," he said.
The government needs to be shown the right path of Gandhi's non-violent way, which only can help save the Constitution, Pawar said.
On the occasion, Sinha said, "We will protect the Constitution drafted by Ambedkarji. We will not let the country be partitioned again. We will not let Gandhi be murdered again. We are all one and will remain one." Congress leader Ashish Deshmukh, who also participated in the yatra, reiterated his demand that the Maharashtra government remove all those vice chancellors from state universities who have links with the RSS and were appointed during the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP regime.
He alleged that whatever happened in the JNU recently was because the university administration has people who follow ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Deshmukh said JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, too, is believed to be following the RSS ideology.
"So, to avoid any JNU-like incident in Maharashtra universities, the government should remove the vice chancellors who have RSS links," he said.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, state minister Nawab Malik, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar, Trinamool Congress MP Nadimul Haque and others were also present on the occasion.