Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) decade-old ally, Shiromani Akali Dal, on Friday made it clear that the party would not hesitate in parting ways over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in case of inconvenience to the people.
Though the party stayed away from supporting a Government resolution recommending the repealing of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and amending documentation for the NRC, its senior leader and Majitha MLA Bikram Singh Majithia declared in the Vidhan Sabha that the SAD is “strongly” against the NRC “that forces needless hardships on the common people”.
“Where people have to stand in queues to prove their identity, SAD is totally against the NRC,” said Majithia while speaking on the resolution moved by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra on the concluding day of the two-day special assembly session.
At the same time, Majithia pointed that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already clarified that the Central Government was “not contemplating the introduction of the NRC in the country”.
Majithia’s statement came after the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs lashed out at the Akali Dal and the BJP for their “vicious” and destructive attempt to polarize and “divide the country” through the “unconstitutional” CAA.
Even as the SAD MLAs and the lone BJP Legislator made efforts to defend the Centre’s decision to implement the CAA and NRC, the Congress and AAP members lashed out at the move, even going ahead to demand the banning of BJP’s ideological fountainhead “RSS” (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).
All the speakers, both from the Congress and AAP, accused the SAD, especially the Badals, of double speak over the CAA — an issue which has led to nationwide violent protests.
“British brought divide and rule policy to rule on Indians, and now some leaders at the Centre who wanted to rule us, is doing it on RSS’s directive. “RSS should be banned…it was banned several times earlier also…it is RSS’ thinking…it is dividing us,” said Cabinet Minister Charanjit Singh Channi while speaking on the resolution.
Thanking the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for taking the lead in raising his voice against the dangerous Act all over the country, Channi said that the CAA was BJP’s “vicious attempt” to introduce religion as basis of citizenship.
Terming CAA as a major threat to Nation's integrity, Channi said that through this Act, Modi regime had tried to show concern for people living in other countries while showing scant regard for their own people, who were now protesting against their oppressive policies.
AAP MLA from Dirba and Leader of Opposition in the House Harpal Singh Cheema described the CAA as the “RSS’ hidden agenda to terrorize the minorities and Dalits with the sole motive of polarizing the Country on religious lines”.
He said that the BJP was constantly making all-out efforts to tinker with the basic tenets of the Constitution for its vested interests.
At the same time, he castigated the BJP for diverting the attention of the people from the core issues of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, economic disparities, regional imbalances by bringing the CAA.
He also demanded that the government should also bring a resolution on the floor of the House against the recurring fascist attacks orchestrated on the JNU students and students from other universities and colleges opposing the CAA, NCR and NPR.
Questioning the Centre’s intention behind bringing the Act, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said that the CAA had been introduced to single out one particular religion and “this will perpetuate sectarian tendencies”.
“The resolution is an attempt to raise the voice of all those whom the Central Government is illegally trying to target on religious grounds,” he said.
Referring to the 1947 partition, Manpreet said that Punjab had not demanded the division even then and more than 10 lakh lives had been lost in that tragic period and Punjab had paid a very heavy price for that. India's ethos would be tarnished if the Act was not repealed, he warned.
“Why not include people from Sri lanka, Burma, Bhutan and why they are excluding Muslims…we want all should be included, be it Tamil Hindus from Sri Lanka, Rohingya’s from Burma, and others…But they are deliberately ignoring one section,” said Manpreet, underlining that the poorest of the poor section would be affected by the move.
Supporting the government resolution, AAP’s Sunam MLA Aman Arora said that the CAA was just an attempt to hide the failures of the Modi regime on all major fronts, be it the promise of providing and jobs, or economic prosperity. CAA was against the spirit of our Constitution, he said asking what was the need to bring such an Act.
Speaking in favour of the resolution against CAA, AAP MLA from Kotkapura Kultar Singh Sandhwan said that the Act was in violation of the basic structure of the Constitution and aimed at create a wedge between the peacefully living communities in India.
“We are against none…but, we are in favour of our Constitution,” he said while lashing out at the Akali Dal for never standing with the Sikhs but with the politics.
Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains demanded from the Government to direct all the officials, on the lines of the Kerala Government, not to carry out any work related with the National Population Register (NPR).
Maintaining that the CAA’s announcement has affected him “personally”, Nabha MLA Kaka Randeep Singh described the Centre’s attempt to divide the nation on religious lines as atrocious and dangerous for India’s secular fabric.
The issues of employment and declining GDP were being masked by raising religious sentiments by the BJP to instill a sense of fear amongst minorities, he said while pointing that the BJP led Central Government first brought Godra, then Muzaffarnagar, then came Article 370, followed by triple talaq and now this. “Isn’t a particular community is being targeted here,” he asked.
Commending the Chief Minister for taking a bold initiative by bringing resolution against CAA, Congress’ Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring termed it as a “draconian” Act, aimed at promoting hatred, oppression and communalism, as well as promoting sectarian politics.
He blamed the BJP for thrusting this Act upon the people, especially the minorities, who had been living peacefully in India since independence. The student violence that had erupted in JNU, Jamia Milia and other educational institutions across the country reflected the people’s mood against the BJP’s nefarious designs to destabilize the country for their ulterior motives.
LONE MUSLIM MLA TOO REGISTERS HER PROTEST
The only Muslim MLA in the 117-member House, Cabinet Minister Razia Sultana pointed that the Centre’s decision would impact the poorest and backward people who would not be able to procure and produce documentation to claim their Indian citizenship.
“The Constitution’s founders would have never thought that the cherished ideals enshrined by them would be trampled over in this manner one day.
In a democracy, both majority and minority communities are taken along together to ensure the nation's progress,” she said, adding that the BJP had persistently been trying to divide people on religious lines.
Detention centres had been set up across and there was fear amongst all minority communities which was worrisome, she said, terming it a “diversionary tactic” to shift people's attention from the key issues staring the nation.
“Modi fooled the people with his false claims of having respect for the Constitution,” she said, adding that it was satisfying to see people from all walks of life coming out on the streets to protest the “draconian” Act.
Castigating the Modi regime for playing with fire by polarizing people on religious lines, Razia Sultana said that the truth was that RSS and BJP have a fascist mindset and these parties have never accepted the national flag and Constitution.
BJP, SAD ON STICKY WICKET
The government resolution seeking repealing of CAA and amending NPR forms left the BJP and SAD members on sticky wicket as they failed to defend the Centre’s move.
BJP’s only present member, Abohar MLA Arun Narang, could not muster enough words to justify the CAA, NRC, and NPR and only assuring the House that “kissi ko iss se khatra nahi hai” (there is no danger to anyone).
SAD Legislature Party leader Sharanjit Singh Dhillon maintained that the party was in favour of applying the CAA to members of the Muslim community also so that they also get the same benefits as provided to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi communities under the Act.
“The party wants the Congress not to oppose the relief given to the Sikh community, as from Afghanistan, but to focus only on securing relief to the Muslims also,” he said.
SAD’s Adampur MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu clarified that SAD president and Ferozepur MP Sukhbir Badal demanded the inclusion of Muslims in the Parliament. “Congress Government brought this resolution to divert attention from issues like agrarian crisis, power scam and unemployment in Punjab…it is a conspiracy,” he said.
“Muslims should also be included in CAA. Instead of resolution opposing the CAA, we should bring amendment of including Muslims,” he said.
Later, the SAD moved a resolution recommending to the Centre that CAA should be suitably amended to facilitate this relief to the Muslims, in addition to other communities, including the Sikhs, the Hindus, the Jains, the Budhhists, the Christians and Parsis, which was rejected by the Speaker Rana KP Singh.