New Delhi: Accusing the opposition of pursuing “divide-and-rule politics” and stoking violence over the amended citizenship law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that the legislation and the NRC had nothing to do with Indian Muslims as he sought to assuage their concerns amid widespread protests.
Strongly defending the contentious law, he said at a rally here that it was about giving rights to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries and would not snatch anybody’s rights, as he made an appeal for peace. On the National Register of Citizens, Modi sought to allay apprehensions, especially among Muslims, saying his government had never discussed it since coming to power for the first time in 2014. It had been discussed neither in Parliament nor in the Cabinet, he added. “Since my government first came to power in 2014, I want to tell 130 crore countrymen, there has never been a discussion on this NRC,” he said, noting that it was done only in Assam due to a Supreme Court order. “The Congress and its friends have been shouting that see the crow has flown after cutting your ear. And some people began chasing the crow. They should first check if the crow has cut their ears or not…. First you find out if anything has been done on the NRC,” he said.
Several Union Ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah, often pitched for a nationwide NRC, with Shah telling Parliament recently that it would be carried out. The government had, however, issued no communication about it.
“The citizenship law or the NRC has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. They have nothing to worry,” Modi said, accusing the Congress, its allies and “urban naxals” of spreading rumour that Muslims would be sent to detention centres.
The law has, in fact, nothing to do with Indian citizens, he said and asked people to stand up to pay tribute to Parliament and lawmakers for its passage. Modi used the big rally, held to “thank him” for the Centre’s decision to give ownership rights to residents of unauthorised colonies in poll-bound Delhi, to counter criticism over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as he condemned incidents of violence during the protests, lauded the police and slammed Pakistan for discrimination against minorities.
In a relentless attack on the opposition during his nearly 100-minute speech, he said it was still reeling from the shock of his return to power in June and resorting to divide-and-rule politics to target him. Targeting the Congress, AAP, TMC and the Left, he said India had an opportunity to expose Pakistan’s discrimination against minorities, but it was lost due to their politics and accused these parties of working to “defame” India globally. Starting his speech with the slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality), he said his government never considered whether beneficiaries of its schemes went to temple or mosque. He asked Muslims to look at his “track record” and not listen to “tape record” of his rivals. “Did we ask anybody’s religion or caste when our government gave LPG cylinders to eight crore families? We never asked people’s religion when giving homes to the poor during the last five years. “I want to ask from the Congress, its allies and others who are dividing the country over the issue as to why they are resorting to such lies…. They have conspired to push not only Delhi but also other parts of the country into chaos and fear,” he said, asking youths to read the law’s provisions. He also hit out at the chief ministers who have claimed that they would not implement the amended law in their States, saying they should have first consulted their legal officers.
Modi said infiltrators never “reveal” themselves unlike refugees who never “hide” their identities. Modi said his rivals can burn his effigy and thrash it with shoes if they wish so, but they should not target the poor. He also quoted comments of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in support of giving citizenship rights to these persecuted minorities and said the Congress changed its stand due to vote bank