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Citizenship law, NRC leading country towards anarchy: Prakash Ambedkar

In an interview with Indian Express, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar says enforcement of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is not just against Muslims, but also Hindus and seeks to polarise both the communities.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: December 23, 2019 3:23:29 am
Mumbai news, Mumbai city news, Prakash Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar interview, Prakash Ambedkar CAA Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar

How do you look at new citizenship law and National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

The CAA and the NRC are not different issues, as is being projected. Together they have been pushed to create chaos. The CAA and NRC are taking the country towards anarchy and that is what those at the helm are seeking to do — to polarise Hindus and Muslims. They believe it will give let them rule for another five years.

How does NRC or CAA help those in power?

NRC is a process of disenfranchising. Once you disenfranchise, you have a set of people… who will have the right to vote. This is at the back of their mind.

How will the Ambedkarites or Dalits oppose CAA and NRC?

VBA has to bring all oppressed and suppressed segments, who will be at the receiving end of this Act, under one banner. Our battle cannot be for a day or a week. We have to be ready for a long battle. NRC is not going to affect Muslims alone. Its maximum impact will be on adivasis, Dalits, nomadic tribes, who constitute up to 40 per cent of the population.

BJP president Amit Shah and acting party president J P Nadda have made it clear they will not withdraw CAA and NRC.

Even the PM (Narendra Modi) may have made his intentions very clear on CAA and NRC, but we are equally determined not to submit to them. We will organise our own campaign. We are going to establish that the people are the boss of this country, not the PM.

Will public outcry force the BJP to rethink?

I don’t think so. It is a collective decision of RSS and BJP, and Home Minister Amit Shah just has been put in the forefront.

But it appears to have backfired, as non-BJP ruled states have refused to enforce CAA and NRC.

The backlash has been both on domestic and international fronts. The decision has antagonised the international community as well. The question is how many people have applied for Indian citizenship. If I were to quote Parliament figures, it is not more than 7,000. For a few thousand people, you are bringing in the CAA.

Why do you need the amendment is the question? Section (5) of the Act requires that anyone who wants to acquire Indian Citizenship has to make an application. The provision is already there. Section (6) speaks of naturalisation of citizenship. So, when you already have machinery that can cater to even 10 lakh applications, why this tamasha?

Has this exposed BJP’s political short-sightedness?

No… they have a hidden agenda. They are economically on a back foot. Revenue has fallen. The minimum revenue required to keep the machinery running is Rs 16 lakh crore. What is the revenue collection this time? It is just Rs 6 lakh crore. Do the banks have so much surplus money to lend? They have to cover up their fallacies, and NRC is a handy tool.

You said the Opposition was playing to BJP’s Hindu-Muslim polarisation script on CAA.

I have started speaking to the Muslim clergy and explaining to them the consequences of these decisions. Now, they have realised that though Muslims are the target, 40 per cent Hindus are also on the line. Therefore, some of the clergies have taken a stand that they should not be at the forefront (of the movement opposing CAA and NRC). Instead, they should allow the affected Hindus to be at the forefront. This way, the RSS’ instrument of divide and rule, between Hindus and Muslims, becomes blunt. This is the first thing which we are trying to do.

Are you reaching out to all Opposition parties?

My question is are mainstream opposition parties serious (about the issue)? What was the purpose of bringing up (Sangh ideologue) V D Savarkar (while opposing CAA)? It is a non-issue. For some Savarkar is a hero. [At a rally in Delhi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “I am not Rahul Savarkar and I will not apologise for speaking the truth”.]

Was it a political mistake?

Of course. And such blunders are being made continuously. It certainly helps Modi-Shah. When Modi-Shah’s graph is on the decline, what was the need for a Congress leader (Rahul Gandhi) to rake up non-issues? Another example is of NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who said he just followed the party’s plan to join hands with BJP (to form government in Maharashtra).

What about NCP president Sharad Pawar taking the lead to bring like-minded Opposition parties together?

I don’t see any role of Sharad Pawar in uniting the Opposition. The situation, as I see it, is that unless Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s M K Stalin, and Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen Patnaik come together, there will be no viable alternative. The only other alternative, which might emerge, is the university campuses where the agitation is centred at present.

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