Lucknow: Congress leader Anand Sharma on Thursday said that the government’s argument that Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been brought to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities is misplaced as independent India’s governments from 1947 already had this right and have exercised it on various occasions.
“The government’s argument that CAA was brought to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities is entirely misplaced. The Indian government after August 15, 1947, has had full rights to grant citizenship to persecuted persons. For instance, when Goa, Puducherry and Daman and Diu got independent then Indian citizenship was granted to the public there.
Several people came from Sri Lanka and got citizenship here. This happened with people from Kenya and Uganda as well. But never was discrimination made on the grounds of religion as the Constitution does not allow that,” Sharma told reporters here at a press conference.
Sharma further raised a question on why this law was even brought.
“Many people are feeling insecure in the current environment. There are questions over protests on the Citizenship Amendment Act. But our question is why was this act even brought. Articles 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution enumerate the provisions for citizenship in the country. The Citizenship Act was made in 1955 and amendments were made as per requirements but never was the spirit of the constitution undermined,” he said.
“We had requested the government to not be in a hurry regarding this law and send the bill to the standing committee of the parliament for review to avoid any untoward situation,” he added.
He stressed that the current challenges facing the country are in the realm of economy and the government is focusing its energies on other issues that are creating problems in the country.
“The economy is facing turmoil. Many industries have closed down and many people have lost their jobs. World’s leading organisations like IMF and World Bank have also expressed their concern. Prime Minister Modi says that he wants to propel India to a $ 5 trillion economy for which India needs 10 per cent year-on-year growth for five years. The government says that the growth rate is 4.5 per cent but the gross value addition or the actual growth rate is 3.2 per cent. But there is no discussion on the economy and the government is hell-bent on creating chaos in the society through its recent decisions,” the Congress leader said.
Sharma further slammed the government on the issue of NRC and said that it was in violation of the constitutional norms.
“NRC is in direct conflict with Article 14 of the constitution. If someone has not got any property in their name, then how will they give the documents for the same. The BJP says that it is the guardian of the culture of the country. There are more than 60 per cent of the Indian population who did not vote for BJP. Are they all anti-national?” he added.
The Congress leader said that India has always believed in the philosophy that the whole world is one family (Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam) and discrimination should not be made on the basis of certain factors amongst people.
“India has a culture of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam. Swami Vivekananda had said that he comes from a religion that embraced all faiths from around the world. If the BJP government believes in Swami Ji then they should immediately rollback CAA,” he said.
Sharma further stressed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should listen to the voice of the public on the issues.
“Many foreign tourists have cancelled their visits to the country because of the unrest that is there in the country. Our economy is in a bad phase as it is and it will suffer even more with many tourists retracting from here. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not just address the nation with his ‘Mann ki Baat’ but also hear the people’s voice,” he said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.