India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Photo by Handout / PIB / AFP

The protests continue in some parts of the country, but the Government seems to be firm on not yielding an inch on the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act. On Sunday, both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister speaking at different places stoutly defended the new law. Modi told the gathering at the Ramakrishna Mission at its Belur headquarters that the citizenship law was not aimed at expelling someone from the country but to welcome the persecuted minorities from the neighbouring countries. Indeed, thanks to the law, the world at large now knows how badly Pakistan treats its minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians, etc. ‘Had the dispute not arisen, the world would not have known how minorities in Pakistan are getting tortured and their human rights trampled. Pakistan will now have to answer why they have been persecuting minorities for 70 years…’ The Prime Minister said Mahatma Gandhi wanted the persecuted minorities from Pakistan to be given citizenship, “I am only doing what Mahatma Gandhi wanted us to do”, he insisted. Later at another function in Kolkata, Modi lashed out at the Mamata Banerjee Government for denying the people of West Bengal the benefits of various central welfare schemes. Not implementing Centre’s schemes because Trinamool Congress workers cannot make ‘cut money’ was anti-people. Meanwhile, Shah addressing a public rally in Jabalpur accused the Opposition parties, especially the Congress, of misleading the people on the citizenship law. Do the persecuted minorities in Pakistan not need protection? India had promised citizenship to the minorities at the time of the Partition but only now that commitment was fulfilled. Striking an aggressive note, the Home Minister said anti-national activities would be put down with a heavy hand. ‘Those shouting Bharat tere tukdey honge ek hazar,Inshallah Inshallah at JNU would be jailed. He too accused the Opposition of spreading lies about CAA and challenged Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi to debate on the issue. Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi’s attempt to unite the Opposition under her leadership failed when Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati declined her invitation to discuss CAA. The Trinamool Congress leader in fact criticised the Congress and the Communists for creating violence in West Bengal during the anti-CAA protest. Sonia Gandhi’s effort to emerge as the first among equals in the Opposition was not acceptable to regional leaders, with their own parties fighting elections against the Congress. Besides, Mamata Banerjee is suspicious of a growing Congress-left proximity. Therefore, even the opposition to CAA could not bring her to attend the anti-CAA meeting in the capital on Monday. The Shiv Sena and AAP, too, did not attend the meeting convened by the Congress leader. DMK too decided to skip. The meeting was attended by Sharad Pawar, Sharad Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and senior Congress leaders. Sonia Gandhi accused the Government of harbouring a dangerous agenda in the garb of CAA and NPR. She criticised the police action against JNU, AMU and Jamia students, alleging that the Government was suppressing dissent and civic rights with police violence. She said that CAA was discriminatory and divisive and reflected the ruling party’s sinister agenda.

The pro- and anti-CAA voices above can leave the citizens confused. But the way the Muslims have united against the Government in the wake of the passage of the citizenship law would indicate that it was merely a trigger and that the real motive is something else. If despite repeated reiterations by official spokespersons that CAA had no hidden agenda, fear of mass expulsion of Muslims from the country or their disenfranchisement is only the figment of imagination of evil minds. Besides, the changes in the citizenship law were recommended by a parliamentary committee headed by a senior Congress member of the Rajya Sabha in 2003. To ascribe to the new law sinister motives is by itself sinister. But it seems neither side is willing to resile from its stand. Confrontation suits the Modi-duo fine, they believe their position is strengthened further by the anti-CAA protests by the Muslims with the Opposition parties providing cover. A working relationship between the ruling party and the Opposition is conducive to the smooth functioning of the Government. Hopefully, both sides will shun confrontation in the interest of peace and progress.

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