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CAA to be Implemented before Lok Sabha Elections: Amit Shah

CAA to be Implemented before Lok Sabha Elections: Amit Shah

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Feb 10: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) passed by Parliament in December 2019, would be notified and implemented before the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The Home Minister further accused the Congress of backtracking on its promise to implement the CAA. “CAA was a promise of the Congress government. When the country was divided and the minorities were persecuted in those countries, Congress had assured the refugees that they were welcome in India and they will be provided with Indian citizenship,” Shah said at a media gathering.

The CAA, Shah stressed, was brought in to provide citizenship and not “take away anyone’s citizenship”. “Minorities in our country, and specially our Muslim community, are being provoked. CAA cannot snatch away anyone’s citizenship because there is no provision in the Act. CAA is an act to provide citizenship to refugees who were persecuted in Bangladesh and Pakistan,” he said.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, commonly known as CAA, was introduced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government. The Act aimed to confer Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians, who migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and entered India till December 31, 2014, due to “religious persecution or fear of religious persecution.”

However, it does not include Muslims or other communities who fled from the same or neighbouring regions. The passage of the act had triggered massive protests across the country. Initially, protests began in Assam on December 4, 2019, after the CAA was introduced in Parliament. The demonstrations intensified across the country after the passage of the Act on December 11, 2019, with some areas witnessing violence. The protesters called CAA “discriminatory” and an “attack on the secularism of India”. According to reports, several people lost their lives either during the protests or due to police action, while thousands of demonstrators were held.

On a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), Mr Shah said it was a constitutional agenda, signed by the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and others. “But the Congress had ignored it due to appeasement. The enforcement of the UCC in Uttarakhand is a social change. It will be discussed on all forums and face legal scrutiny. A secular country cannot have religion-based civil codes,” he said.

Speaking on other issues, Shah said he was confident of the Narendra Modi government returning to power after the Lok Sabha elections with even a bigger majority. He repeated what Mr Modi had told the Lok Sabha earlier this week, the BJP securing at least 370 seats and the NDA together crossing over 400 seats.

Shah asserted that there was no suspense over the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls and even the Congress and other opposition parties have realised that they will again have to sit in the opposition benches.

“We have abrogated Article 370 (of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. So we believe that the people of the country will bless the BJP with 370 seats and the NDA with over 400 seats,” Shah said.

Asked about the possibility of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and some other regional parties joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the home minister said the BJP “believes in family planning but not in politics” giving an indication that more parties may join the ruling coalition.

When pressed further on the SAD, he said, “Talks are going on but nothing has been finalised.” Mr Shah said the 2024 polls will not be an election between the NDA and the INDIA opposition bloc, but between development and those who give mere slogans.

On the timing of a white paper tabled by the government in Parliament, Mr Shah said it was necessary as the country has full right to know what mess the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) left behind when it lost power in 2014.

“At that time (2014), the economy was in a bad shape. There were scams everywhere. Foreign investment was not coming. Had we taken out a white paper at that time, it would have given a wrong message to the world.

“But after 10 years, our government has revived the economy, brought foreign investment and there is no corruption at all. So it is the right time to publish the white paper,” he said.

On the Ayodhya Ram temple, the home minister said the people of the country believed that the temple should be built at the place where Lord Ram was born. “However, due to the politics of appeasement and citing law and order, the construction of the Ram temple was not allowed,” he said.

 

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