Citizenship Amendment Bill: The debate, and the questions; BJP cites 'difference between refugees and infiltrators'
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on Monday slammed the Congress and the Trinamool Congress for their “vote bank” politics in opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. To speak on the Bill, the party fielded several MPs from West Bengal, Assam and the Northeast, states where the CAB is expected have a big impact in electoral politics.
With Home Minister Amit Shah making a powerful pitch for the Bill, BJP fielded 11 of its MPs to extend vociferous support, and topping the list were those from Bengal, where migrants from Bangladesh comprises a significant part of the electorate.
Senior BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal, who headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee on CAB in 16th Lok Sabha, initiated BJP’s defence, and Meenakshi Lekhi explained the legalities with historical background to the concept of CAB. Arguing that the Bill will protect the rights of those who came to India after Partition but did not get citizenship, Agrawal said the country has a responsibility towards them. “There needs to be differentiation between refugees and infiltrators.” he said.
“Migration without persecution is silent invasion,” Lekhi said, countering the Opposition’s criticism that the Bill is discriminating on the basis of religion. “ Minorities are safe here. But our forefathers who had shifted to other countries are not — that’s why Bill…”
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Dilip Ghosh, BJP MP and president of party’s Bengal unit, and his other party colleagues from the state — Locket Chatterjee, Shantanu Thakur, Soumitra Khan and Raju Bista — confined their speeches to attack West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee for “sidelining” Hindus in the state. “Bengal has become western Pakistan. You are talking about India. But our Prime Minister is referred to as an outsider in the state. BJP leaders are not allowed to land their aircraft there,” Ghosh said.
BJP’s Assam MPs Rajdeep Roy, Pallab Lochan Das and Dilip Saikia, Ranjan Singh Rajkumar (Manipur) also spoke. Chatterjee said the Bill would be a lifeline for refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan. She also referred to “illegal migrants from Bangladesh committing crime and escaping through the borders”.