By Arun Srivastava
Speaking at Ramkrishna Mission in Belur Math on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to delineate a new political line by saying that the youth of the country are being misguided about the Citizenship Amendment Act. This does not manifest the element of sudden realisation in the ruling clique; instead, it reflects the shift in the strategy of Modi. Just before taking the protesters Modi intends to split their rank.
This is in fact a move to keep the youths away from the movement before taking the protesters head on. Till the other day, he used to say that people are being misguided by the Congress and other opposition parties. This is for the first time has tried to reach out to the youths. A closer look at the statement makes clear that it is the part of his strategy to split the rank of the youths. He even lauded the youth for speaking against religious persecution of minorities. His move is primarily to connect with the students from Hindu community.
This change of strategy underlines that Modi is scared of swelling rank of the youth protesters. His not harping on the word “students” is the sign of his nervousness. He is not sure how the students would react to his observation. Youth encompasses the students. In fact, his nervousness could be traced into nasty episode that took place at JNU. The brutality perpetrated by the saffron goons on JNU students has acted as a unifying bond amongst the students and even youths. Modi does not desire that further unity should take place amongst them, as that scenario would prove to be doom’s day for BJP and his government.
Addressing the meeting, he came out with two important observations also: “I will not take away anybody’s citizenship. In fact, I am working for giving citizenship. I want to make this clear again that the CAA is not about taking away anybody’s citizenship, but about granting citizenship.” The second has been: “There are a lot of questions among the youth about the new citizenship law, and some are being misled by rumours around it… it is our duty to clear their doubts.”
Modi has been trying to present himself as a statesman. The protest has been going on for a month, but Modi never tried to reach out to the people. On the contrary, his lieutenant Amit Shah has been threatening the participants. The worst sufferers are ironically the students and youths. Whether it is Jamia or JNU, they have been targets of the brutality unleashed by the state machinery. It is simply to confuse the students and presenting himself as a democratic leader that Modi has been blaming “people with political interests”, who he says are deliberately “spreading rumours” about the new citizenship law.
Ever since the CAA was cleared by the Parliament, the saffron leaders and intellectuals have been singling out Muslims. Undeniably, Amit Shah has been at the forefront, whether it is in Parliament or on the streets. In Lok Sabha, he made clear that Muslims would be thrown out. In the changed situation, it is argued that like Hindus, the Muslims would not be harmed. But it is vague assurance. Modi and Shah are aware that the poor among Muslims, like the Hindu poor, Dalits and tribal people, do not always have documentary proof to substantiate their claims of being Indian. Besides the question which haunts them most is why they are being singled out? Why they are being terrorized by the State?
According to Modi, the CAA is only for persecuted minorities. If this were indeed the case, then the existing law and regulations would have facilitated the government to accomplish the task. There was no reason for undertaking so much of pain, which has in turn created acute resentment and a climate of fear in the country. The fact is previous governments have given citizenship to thousands of refugees. In Pilibhit, UP, more than 50,000 such persons were conferred with this rights long back. Few years back, the famous singer Adnan Sami, a Pakistani national, was granted citizenship.
These events make it absolutely clearly that was no need to amend the Constitution and this task could have been merely through an executive action. What is really intriguing is why the Modi government is hiding its real intentions behind the façade of having a citizenship act. If Modi had been really honest in his commitment, he would have opened talk with the protesters before implementing the law. Amidst wide-ranging countrywide student protests, Modi government has already notified the Citizenship Amendment Act effective from January 10. This move of Narendra Modi makes it explicit that he has no respect for the peoples’ desire and is ready to confront the citizens of India. His determination to push ahead the saffron agenda is so precious that he is even prepared to antagonise the people of the country.
During the month-long movement, at least 25 persons have been killed. Ironically, except a few deaths, the government and its people have failed to muster courage to confess that these people were killed by police. What has been most atrocious is that the police has not been ashamed of showing its fascist face to the people.
The Act, which grants citizenship to immigrants belonging to Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has also been opposed by many state governments. Modi should have at least cared for their moves and listened to their arguments. After all India is a federal structure and sentiments of the people should have been honoured.
Modi is not honest in his approach. While on one hand he says youths are misguided, on the other he is not willing to wait for their response to his observation. It simply implies that he has been paying lip service and nothing more. It is beyond comprehension why he is adamant to enforce the Act which has lost credibility and is being viewed with suspicion. Though Modi-Shah combination has launched mass reach out campaign it is irony that so far no sustained effort has been made by the BJP leadership to interact with the Muslims.
The nation is in a crisis. The polarisation brought about by the BJP and Modi government is badly dividing the nation. For the first time the Independent India is witnessing vertical divide and also confrontation between the people and the politics. The scenario emerging at the political horizon of the country is horrific. If this persists there is no doubt that the educational environment will be completely ruined. (IPA Service)