BJP, Netaji kin at loggerheads over new Citizenship law

Krishna Bose and Chandra Kumar Bose both found the amended legislation divisive in nature

Modi and Netaji
Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses for a photograph after offering floral tributes to a picture of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose | PTI File

Voices of dissent over the new citizenship law in West Bengal have emerged from the family of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Two prominent leaders of the state belonging to the Bose family have publicly expressed their disappointment over the amended legislation. One of them, a BJP office bearer, has even said he might have to rethink his future in BJP.

The latest to voice opposition to the contentious legislation is Krishna Bose, a former Trinamool Congress MP, who said on Friday (January 24) the central government’s move to implement the law and its proposed countrywide NRC exercise might lead to a “civil war-like situation” in the country.

Prior to her, the freedom fighter’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose, state BJP vice president, had also criticised the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and had urged the party to grant citizenship to even Muslim under the law. He was also irked after photos surfaced on social media showing a BJP flag in the hands of a Netaji statue in Nadia district.

The CAA seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who had entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, having fled religious persecution in their countries. Opposition parties had opposed the law, saying it is divisive in nature.

Krishna Bose
Krishna Bose

Speaking on the CAA, Krishna Bose said the Centre was going all out to target Muslims, as was evident from its “adamant attitude” in enacting the contentious law. “Today, we are in a terrible situation, where the Centre is forcing its divisive principles (on people). It’s clear that Muslims in our country are being targeted by the Centre,” she said.

“They are talking about other communities, the Buddhists, the Jains, and others, but only one name has been omitted and here lies the controversy. Why not include everybody who faced persecution? There is no doubt that CAA is targeted towards the Muslims,” she told news agency PTI.

The octogenarian claimed that the implementation of CAA was an attempt to turn the country into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, in tune with the vision of the RSS. “So far, the protests had been mixed… But what (the country) is going through might almost lead towards a civil war… I hope not but it looks like that,” she contemplated.

Also read | Why exclude Muslims from CAA? Asks Bengal BJP vice-president Bose

“The ideology of the RSS to have a Hindu Rashtra has become a part of their (BJP’s) belief system, too. They are very adamant about it and they are openly saying it,” she said, referring to Union home minister Amit Shah’s firm stand to implement the CAA.

The former TMC MP also contended that the Narendra Modi government had no right to force its decision on common people, just because it won the polls by a mammoth majority. “People are being labelled as traitors for protesting against the government. This is unacceptable. Freedom of speech and expression is at stake. You cannot say anything. This is terrible,” she said.

Drawing a parallel between the present-day India and Nazi Germany, she said, “Everyone is recounting the days of (Adolf) Hitler. This was exactly how the situation was in 1930s, and he (Hitler) was quite popular at that time. Today the situation somewhat looks similar,” she stated.

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The former parliamentarian was also critical about the attacks on students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and at Viswa Bharati University in Bolpur. She also showered praise on the students’ community for coming together at a time when the country is going through a “critical time”.

She urged protesters to follow the ideals of Netaji, not mix religion with politics. “There were Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Netaji’s Azad Hind Fauj. They came together to fight for India’s Independence. Netaji had warned religion and politics should not be mixed. He said that it was easy to separate people who have been united by religion,” she said.

Chandra Kumar Bose
Chandra Kumar Bose

Meanwhile, Chandra Kumar Bose, who has been pushing for the inclusion of Muslims in the CAA, said he might have to rethink on his decision to remain in the party if it doesn’t change the law. He also raised concerns on an “atmosphere of fear” being created in the country with the citizenship law.

“Home Minister Amit Shah had stated CAA does not involve religion. If that so, we need to be transparent and specific about it. When I joined BJP in 2016, I told Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi I would do politics based on Netaji’s ideology, which is secular and inclusive in nature,” he was quoted as saying by India Today.

He added, “I will not digress from Netaji’s directions… If it (BJP) doesn’t (modify CAA), I will have to rethink my future in the BJP.” Bose had earlier said the government should issue a written clarification regarding the issue.

(With inputs from agencies)