Former home minister P. Chidambaram spoke to Prashant Srivastav on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Excerpts:
Why is there so much protest?
CAA violates the Constitution of India, specifically Article 14. It is under-inclusive, unequal, discriminatory and opposed to constitutional morality. Hence the opposition from all sections of people. We have posed some questions to those who supported the amendment. I did so in my speech in the Rajya Sabha. We have not got satisfactory answers. Unless those questions are answered to people’s satisfaction, we have to assume the government does not have good answers. Many eminent scholars and lawyers believe the law will be struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. That is also my view.
The government says the Opposition is inciting Muslims against the law.
We are not inciting the Muslims, or any other section, to revolt against the law. The overwhelming majority of protestors are not Muslims; they are Hindus or belong to other non-Islamic faiths. Some are agnostics or atheists. To call the protestors Muslims and accuse others of inciting Muslims reveals the BJP’s narrow and closed mind. When CAA is implemented, you will realise it was a carefully designed plan to discriminate against Muslims. The burden will fall heavily on Muslims. The impact of NRC and CAA will be to identify and exclude Muslims. The evil consequences will also fall on others like Tamil Hindus migrating from Sri Lanka and Christians migrating from Bhutan. This is part of the agenda of pushing the idea of a Hindu Rashtra. All those who believe in a plural, inclusive and non-discriminatory society should push back on the plan.
What will happen if NRC is implemented across India?
The chaos witnessed in Assam will be multiplied many times over. It will split the country, wreck federalism, spawn violence. The Assam NRC lies in a shambles; Rs 1,600 crore was wasted. Wisdom lies in abandoning the misconceived nationwide NRC and mischievous CAA.