The BJP-led NDA government on Monday distanced itself completely from its coalition partner Shiv Sena’s remarks on Muslims’ voting rights, making it clear that the suggestion for a disenfranchisement of Muslims was unacceptable.
“Such suggestions or purported suggestions should not be discussed even hypothetically. These are not acceptable. Such suggestions are not allowed under the Constitution,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.
He said that the minorities, including the Muslims, were as much the citizens of the country as anybody else. “There cannot be any differentiation on any ground. The suggestion to deny such rights to anybody on any ground is not acceptable to our government. It is unfortunate that some political parties are used to vote-bank politics, which only harms the sections they pretend to be protecting.”
He felt that “people, institutions and organisations functioning in our constitutional scheme of things should avoid making such controversial remarks as they will not help the cause of building an inclusive and resurgent India.”
The government, he made it clear, “is committed to defending and upholding the rights given to our citizens under the Constitution”.
The Minister pointed out that all categories of citizens — men, women, poor or rich, literate or illiterate, irrespective of caste, creed, region and religion — enjoyed the right to vote.
He said it was important considering that even developed countries had accorded voting rights to different sections of people in a gradual manner.
In an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana, Shiv Sena had demanded withdrawal of voting rights of Muslims, saying the community has often been used for vote-bank politics.