In designing India, the BJP way seems to be the agenda for the introduction of the CAA, NPR and NRC. They were all mandated in the statutes and governments, even before Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, had expressed the intent to implement them. But when the Modi government finally took the decisive step, a Pandora’s box has opened up and it hit a hornets’ nest.
Why is it that everything the Modi government wants to do become suspect and controversial for the opposition? It is the blind hatred for Modi or the unreasonable antipathy of the anti-Modi brigade that has made the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Popular Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) becoming controversial.
The CAA has its genesis in the 1985 Rajiv Gandhi AASU Pact. That the governments at the centre till date did not move on the matter and it was only after Modi became Prime Minister in 2014 that it became operational is another matter. The NPR was a proposal mooted under the UPA and P Chidambaram, as his Home Minister, piloted the move. The NRC was to be taken up by then Home Minister L. K. Advani, during the NDA rule in 2001.
So, on the face of it, the Modi-Amit Shah team has not done anything revolutionary or novel for the opposition to protest. Yet, there is widespread unrest, a prophecy of doom and cultivated violence around the country on the issue of CAA and NRC. All the explanations of the Prime Minister and Home Minister on the issue that it is not against any community have fallen on deaf ears. It is as if the opposition is not open to reason. It is bent on spreading falsehood.
Every Modern nation in the world today has their citizen’s register. It has become absolutely necessary and an important ingredient for the planning and development activities, and national security in particular in times of calibrated terror attacks. That India needed one too was recognised as early as 1953.
As for taking minorities from the Islamic states of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan because of their notorious history of religious persecution of minorities, has been the commitment right from Mahatma Gandhi in 1947 to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Dr. Rajendra Prasad in the aftermath of partitions and later by Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister during the UPA time. Then why is it that when the BJP tries to implement long-standing promises of the national leadership it becomes exceptional and anti-Constitutional?
Legal experts like Harish Salve and Aryama Sundaram have not found anything violating Article 14 of the constitution or violating the secular fabric of India. The argument that Muslims also should be included in the list of persecuted minorities in the CAA is so ridiculous that one has to invent a rational for religious persecution of Muslims in these Islamic countries.
If we accept it, then the very Islamic nature of these countries has to be questioned. Nobody can make such a suggestion unless their objective is to Islamise India totally. There seem to be a deliberate antipathy towards Hindus and the existence of India as a Hindu majority state in the opposition camp. Or else why should anybody go back on their own publicly stated stance only because the BJP government is doing it.
As for equality before law and Article 14, it is not for refugees or infiltrators. It applies only to Indian citizens. The latter will come under the preview of the asylum rules, applicable to aliens from foreigner countries. The CAA is an attempt to extend justice to the persecuted minorities from the said three countries living in refugee camps for decades.
How can anybody oppose the BJP for implementing its manifesto declaration? The opposition is charging the BJP of working towards implementing its party agenda. What is wrong about it? Any party, that gets a mandate, that too for a second time, is supposed to implement its agenda. That other parties are not serious about their manifesto is their problem. A convincing mandate in an election is in itself a green signal for a party to implement its manifesto promises.
The parties that lost the election are now trying to block the BJP from going ahead, by taking to streets and fomenting violence in the name of CAA. In fact, the opposition tried to raise passions in the country in the last six years on many occasions.
In the name of Demonetisation, GST, lynching, Award Wapasi, intolerance and abrogation of Article 370, the opposition tried to corner Modi. The same set of people, through signature and advertisement campaigns, tried to stop Modi from becoming India’s Prime Minister. The opposition to the CAA and NRC have to be seen in this light.
The opponents of these Acts have not come up with any convincing argument to oppose the CAA and NRC. The opposition could have thought of better arguments to allow Muslims into India from Pakistan and Bangladesh than accusing Modi of being communal. The struggle against the CAA and NRC has so far not gained any national echo, also because of this reason.
India has to emerge as a strong modern nation. To ensure this, NPR, CAA and NRC are necessary. There is no use trying to stop their implementation through campus violence and street protest. The parties opposing these are actually trying to take out their frustration against Modi, by making this issue as mere ruse. The Opposition to the CAA and NRC look deliberate.
By politicising, and communalising a national issue, the opposition has walked into Narendra Modi’s trap. One cannot argue for only Muslims and claim that they have a secular agenda. As for migrants from neighbouring countries, no nations, not even the US, allows unhindered entry of foreigners, who will upset the demographic equilibrium of their nationhood.
(The writer is a political analyst and member and former Editor of Organiser Weekly. Views expressed are personal)