BJP uses 2003 Manmohan Singh's speech to target Congress

The Asian Age.

India, All India

The clip is from a debate on the Citizenship Bill which had been brought by the then Atal Behari Vajpayee-led government.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Photo: Twitter/ ANI)

New Delhi: Amid widespread criticism against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the Opposition, including the Congress, using the Narendra Modi government’s move to attack it as being “anti-Muslim”, the BJP on Thursday reminded the Congress that former PM Manmohan Singh too had advocated citizenship for minorities from India’s neighbours like Bangladesh. The BJP’s Twitter handle posted a video clip of Dr Singh’s Parliament speech in 2003 when he was Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and BJP stalwart L.K. Advani was deputy prime minister. The BJP also reiterated that its opponents were protesting against the CAA for votebank politics while ignoring the plight of the minorities from three nations in the neighbourhood countries living in India.

The clip is from a debate on the Citizenship Bill which had been brought by the then Atal Behari Vajpayee-led government.

“In 2003, speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, then Leader of the Opposition, asked for a liberal approach in granting citizenship to minorities, who are facing persecution, in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Citizenship Amendment Act does just that,” the BJP tweeted with the video clip.

In the video, Dr Singh is heard saying: “After Partition, minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution. And it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people — these unfortunate people — to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be most liberal... I sincerely hope the honourable home minister will bear this in mind in charting out the future course of action with regard to the Citizenship Act.”

Then Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah is heard telling Mr Advani that the minorities in Pakistan were also suffering and they too should be taken care of, Mr Advani acknowledged it and also endorsed what Dr Singh had said.

Meanwhile, echoing BJP president and home minister Amit Shah’s views, party working president J.P. Nadda asserted that the amended law will be implemented and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would also be brought in. Mr Nadda, who met Sikh refugees from Afghanistan at the BJP headquarters, who under the amended law can become Indian citizens, attacked the Opposition for protesting against the new legislation.

“These people (persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries) have been living in India for 28-30 years but cannot admit their children in schools or buy a house as they do not have citizenship. Our opponents cannot see anything beyond their votebank politics... India is marching ahead under Narendra Modi and will continue to do so. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be implemented, so will be the NRC in future,” he added.

The Sikh delegation thanked the BJP for the changes in the citizenship law, which will now grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they had arrived in India by December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution.