View: Congress indulging in politics of rumour-mongering over CAA

It is trying to stoke communal sentiment by misleading people into believing that the legislation is anti-Muslim and linked to the National Register of Citizens. The opposition is wrong on both counts.

BCCL

This is not the first time that the Congress is trying to stoke religious passions for political gains.

By Bhupender Yadav

It is rather unfortunate that the Congress is indulging in the politics of rumour-mongering over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) instead of playing the role of a constructive opposition. It is trying to stoke communal sentiment by misleading people into believing that the legislation is anti-Muslim and linked to the National Register of Citizens. The opposition is wrong on both counts. As has been said by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the CAA is neither anti-Muslim nor linked to NRC in any way.

This, however, is not the first time that the Congress is trying to stoke religious passions for political gains. In 2014, the opposition instigated the trend of ‘award wapsi’, contending that there was a spurt in communal violence since the BJP came to power. People saw through the Congress’ game plan and the whole gimmick fizzled out in no time. In August 2019, when the BJP government decided to abrogate the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir, which made the region’s development impossible, the Congress again tried to present the move as one aimed against a particular community. But the country wholeheartedly supported the government’s decision.


Its plan to keep the communal pot boiling in the Ram Janmabhoomi case also failed when the Supreme Court ordered the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. As the attempts to foment unrest failed, there was desperation in the opposition camp. It is for this reason that it is trying to mislead people on the CAA.

During the Partition, India gave a commitment to the minorities of East and West Pakistan, such as Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Hindus, that it would protect their lives and liberties in case their countries fail to give them safety as per the obligation under the Nehru-Liaquat Pact. The Congress today is lying to the nation after its own former ministers acknowledged the problem in Parliament and promised to do something about it.

In 2003, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the issue of the persecution of Bangladeshi religious minorities in the Rajya Sabha. The then home minister, LK Advani, acknowledged Singh’s request for a policy to tackle the problem. In 2005, UPA minister of state for external affairs Edappakath Ahamed quoted in the Lok Sabha the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to highlight the atrocities being committed on Hindus there. In 2007, minister of state Sriprakash Jaiswal said Hindus from Pakistan were coming to India in large numbers. As the Congress government extended temporary relief to the refugees, the Left parties supported the move. In 2010, external affairs minister SM Krishna informed the Lok Sabha that the Congress-led government was aware of persecution of Hindus in Pakistan. In 2011, minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur repeated this.
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The NDA government on February 28, 2004, and the UPA government on February 27, 2007, allowed Rajasthan and Gujarat to grant citizenship to the Hindus who came to India during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. In 2014, the UPA government declared that 1,11,754 Pakistani nationals came to India in 2013 by applying for Indian visas. Of such visitors, a large number of Hindus and Sikhs did stay back even after their visas expired.

On February 18, 2014, minister of stat e for home affairs M Ramachandran said a provision to grant extended visas was introduced for Hindus and other persecuted minority groups. Rules in this regard were formed on December 29, 2011, and on March 7, 2012, a notification was issued to all states and union territories. These were, however, temporary measures. The incumbent governments were also aware of the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. In 2003, minister of state for external affairs Vinod Khanna told the Lok Sabha that the government had been getting information about the persecution of minority communities in Bangladesh from time to time. The assertion was reiterated by parliamentary affairs minister Rajeev Shukla in 2013 in the Rajya Sabha.

In a memorandum to PM Manmohan Singh on April 20, 2012, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi called the persecuted minorities of Bangladesh as Indians and said they shouldn’t be treated as foreigners. From 2004 to 2014, the UPA government accepted that Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh were being persecuted, but didn’t take any concrete steps. The BJP promised in its 2019 election manifesto that it would grant citizenship to these persecuted minorities as a permanent solution to the problem.

It is only humanitarian that people who have been living in India for decades as illegal migrants, who successive Indian governments promised to protect because they face religious persecution in their countries of origin, be granted citizenship. One can only hope that in 2020, India would see constructive politics from the opposition camp and an end to rumour and fear mongering with an aim to create a communal divide in the guise of protecting secularism.
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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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