Kick-starting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s outreach campaign on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), party leaders on Sunday (January 5) fired a fresh salvo at the opposition camp, who they claimed was spreading misinformation and misleading the masses over the new legislation.
At a rally of BJP workers in New Delhi, party president Amit Shah blamed Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of misleading the people over the new law and instigating riots. Assuring members of minority communities they will not lose citizenship over the new law, Shah reasserted the legislation provides citizenships only to persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries and does not take it away from anybody.
He also referred to a recent attack on Gurdwara Nankana Sahib by a violent mob in Pakistan and asked opposition leaders to open their eyes to atrocities against minorities in the neighbouring country. “This is an answer to all those opposing the CAA. Tell me if these Sikhs who were attacked the other day in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib will not come to India, then where they will go?” he asked.
Taking a swipe at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he said he came to power five years back by misleading people with a host of promises. Somebody can mislead people once but not all the time, he said, adding the BJP will come to power in Delhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another saffron party leader, Rajnath Singh, too sought to clarify what he termed as misconception about the new law. Singh, who is the defence minister, on Sunday visited the residence of Justice (retd) Khem Karan in Lucknow, his Lok Sabha constituency, to mobilise support for the CAA.
“Our party has decided to give a message to the people that they should not have any misconceptions about the CAA. The Indian culture teaches us ‘Sarvdharma Sambhav’ and an Indian cannot discriminate on lines of caste and religion,” the senior BJP leader said.
His visit comes days after widespread violence in the Uttar Pradesh capital during protests against the law, which officials said left 19 persons dead. The message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) had gone from India to the entire world, Singh said, adding, “Indian cultural values cannot by violated by our party.”
The defence minister also circulated pamphlets on the CAA and requested the media and party workers to go through them. Asked by reporters about the National Register of Citizens (NRC), he said the exercise was on in Assam on the directives of the Supreme Court and not on the Centre’s initiative.
“NRC is going on only in Assam and work has been completed to some extent. It is going on there on the top court’s directives. There is no order of government in this regard. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clarified it,” Singh said.
Nirmala’s door-to-door campaign in Jaipur
In Jaipur, the task of making the masses “aware” of the new law was carried on by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The BJP leader launched a door-to-door campaign at Sanganer in the Rajasthan capital on Sunday, during which she accused the opposition parties of spreading misinformation about the new citizenship law.
“The CAA is not for taking away anyone’s citizenship. The Opposition has no other issue and therefore they are deliberately creating misconception. They are wrong. Confusion is being created by linking CAA with NRC and we have to clear the confusion,” she told a Muslim family.
After launching the campaign at Kagzi mohalla in Sanganer, she proceeded to nearby Laxmi Colony, accompanied by Jaipur MP Ramcharan Bohra and other leaders. Later in the day, she will be addressing the BJP workers in the party office on the issue of CAA.
But, not all’s well in ally camps
Speculations have been rife over a split in the JD(U)-BJP alliance in Bihar over the new Citizenship law with party vice president Prashant Kishor opposing the legislation. Now, JD(U) general secretary Pavan Varma has asked party president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to categorically reject the “divisive CAA-NPR-NRC scheme”.
Varma has termed it as a “nefarious agenda to divide India and create a great deal of unnecessary social turbulence”.
In an open letter to Kumar, Varma expressed his surprise at the “unilateral” announcement of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who is from the BJP, that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise will be carried out in the state between May 15 and 28 despite Kumar’s stand against the NRC.
“…in consonance with your own publicly stated views, and long established secular vision, may I request you now to take a principled stand against the CAA-NPR-NRC scheme, and reject its nefarious agenda to divide India and create a great deal of unnecessary social turbulence,” Varma said in his letter.
“A clear cut public statement by you to this effect would be a major step towards preserving and strengthening the idea of India to which, I know, you yourself are committed. The politics of principle cannot be sacrificed at the altar of short term political gain, he added.
The JD(U) leader has been critical of his party’s decision to support the new citizenship law, and it has now become a law following its passage in both Houses.
In his letter, Varma said the CAA-NRC combine is a direct attempt to divide Hindus and Muslims, and to create social instability. The government has categorically stated, he said, that the NPR is the first step to implementing the NRC and since Kumar has said that Bihar will not have the NRC, it follows that he must say no to the revised NPR as well.
“The central government needs to focus on the real priorities of governance, such as the disastrous state of the economy, the absence of jobs, and agrarian distress, rather than such schemes whose only aim is to destroy the unity and social cohesion of our great country,” Varma said.
(With inputs from agencies)