Calling the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act a “road to anarchy”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said “protest marches, violence and arson” against a law duly passed and notified by Parliament will “create a problem for the country”. He said the Opposition is building narratives keeping only the vote bank in mind.
“I am sounding a warning against this… this will create a problem for you (Opposition Congress) as well… if the Assembly in Rajasthan, where you have a government, passes a decision and no one there is willing to accept it, and people take out protest marches, commit violence and arson… what will be the situation? Can the country run like this? Is this road to anarchy right?” Modi said in Lok Sabha while replying to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address.
In Rajya Sabha, he said “in many parts, anarchy was spread in the name of protests. The violence that happened was dubbed as right to agitation. Repeatedly, the Constitution was invoked. In its name, attempts are being made to cover up undemocratic activity. I can understand the compulsion of the Congress but our Left Front friends from Kerala should understand… they should have known… that Kerala’s Chief Minister has said extremists groups have a hand in agitations in Kerala. He had said it in the Assembly.”
“Not just that. He had warned of strong action. Jis arajakta se aap Keral mei pareshan hain, uska samarthan aap Delhi mei ya desh ke anya hisson mei kaise kar sakte hain (the anarchy that is troubling Kerala, how can you support it in Delhi and other parts of the country),” he said.
He said “whatever is being said about the CAA… every colleague should introspect and ask themselves. Should we all stop attempts to misinform and misguide the country? Is it not our responsibility or not? Should we be part of such campaigns? Nobody is going to benefit politically… maan ke chaliye. This path is not right.”
Delving into history and invoking nation builders during his twin speeches in Parliament to strongly defend the CAA, he said the sentiment in the country had always been in favour of offering shelter to persecuted minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh. He read out an extract from a 1947 resolution of the Congress Working Committee and quoted Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, B R Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia to reiterate this.
In a speech that lasted an hour and forty minutes in Lok Sabha, Modi did not mention NRC but was combative in pushing back on the issues of CAA and NPR, two days ahead of the Delhi elections where the BJP has made the protests against the CAA a poll plank.
Later in the day, while speaking in Rajya Sabha, Modi detailed the NPR process and said that those opposing it were “anti-poor” with vested interests. He accused the opposition of committing a sin. He said census and NPR are routine administrative matters which has taken place in the country in the past as well. “But when vote bank politics create compulsions…those who had brought NPR in 2010 now end up spreading confusion in the minds of the people, are opposing it..”
He said even in the case of Census, questions had been added and removed depending on the requirement since the first exercise was carried out after Independence. “These are issues of governance. Small changes do happen… people should not be spreading rumours about it,” he said.
“…All states have officially notified the NPR and now, some of them have taken a U-turn and are creating hurdles. They are deliberately denying benefits for the poor. Sitting in Opposition, you are now blocking the work that you did not do in 70 years,” he said.
He said the government has records of all the citizens as part of the NPR exercise conducted by the UPA government in 2010. “We are in power since 2014. Kya isi NPR ko lekar ke kisi ke liye sawaliya nishan hamne khada kiya kya? (Did we ever question the NPR?) We have the record… Why are you lying, why are you fooling the people?… We have not persecuted any citizen of the country on the basis of that NPR,” he said.
In Lok Sabha, the motion was passed with a majority but in Rajya Sabha, it was passed amid an Opposition walkout. On the CAA protests, Modi said that the “Congress and its ecosystem” were keeping up the “ruckus” and were “inciting” people with “imaginary fears”.
Defending the CAA, he said it does not affect any Indian citizen and poses no threat to minorities. Those rejected by people in the elections, he said, were fuelling protests against it for their “vote-bank politics”.
“In the eyes of the Congress, they are only Muslims. In our eyes, they are Indians,” he said, adding that those instigating the people against the CAA were speaking in the same language as Pakistan which had been trying for years to mislead and incite Indian Muslims.
He accused the Opposition of using all its might to stoke “imaginary fears” about the law which grants citizenship to minorities from three Muslim countries in the neighbourhood, and likened its stand to that of Pakistan, saying Islamabad spoke the same language for decades to mislead and incite Indian Muslims.
“So much criticism of the CAA has been made ironically by those who love getting photographed with the group of people who want ‘tukde tukde’ of India,” he said.
Seeking to blunt Congress criticism of the CAA, Modi said Jawaharlal Nehru had accepted that minorities from Pakistan needed to be given citizenship. “In the Nehru-Liaquat Pact (of 1950), it is written to grant citizenship to the minorities of Pakistan. Why did Nehru, who was a big thinker, say ‘minorities’ and not ‘all citizens’ of Pakistan?”
He read out Nehru’s 1950 letter to first Assam Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi in which Nehru said that the Assam government needed to differentiate between “Hindu refugees and Muslim immigrants”.
“Was Pandit Nehru communal? Did he want to create Hindu Rashtra? Did he discriminate between Hindus and Muslims?” Modi asked the Opposition benches. He said his government was saying today what Nehru had said decades ago.
As the Opposition benches started demanding that the PM speak on “unemployment”, Modi took a swipe at them, saying he would always ensure that the Opposition remained unemployed. He also described Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as a “tubelight”.
When Rahul Gandhi rose from his seat and questioned him on the issue of unemployment, Modi said he had been waiting for the Congress leader’s reaction but it took him 30-40 minutes. “I have been speaking for 30-40 minutes but it took this long for the current to reach. Many tubelights are like this,” he said, leading to much merriment among NDA members.
He also took several digs at Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for frequently rising from his seat and interrupting him, saying he is publicising the ‘Fit India’ campaign of his government in Parliament.
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