NEW DELHI Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday led the ruling BJP’s outreach on dispelling the confusion around the Citizenship Amendment Act, promoting a video on the legislation by guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and asked people not to fall for “misinformation by vested interest groups”.
The nearly 22-minutes-long video, tweeted by the Prime Minister with the #India supports CAA hashtag received thousands of retweets including by BJP ministers and top leaders and soon went viral.
The video and the PM’s tweet are part of the Bharatiya Janata Party and government’s outreach programme to counter protests against CAA. The law fast tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities from three of India’s Muslim majority neighbours. Some people protesting against it believe it is exclusionary (because it leaves out Muslims and minorities from other countries); others, especially in the North-east, where locals have traditionally been opposed to outsiders, fear that it could result in the legitimising of many of these outsiders; and still others worry that it could be the precursor to a nationwide National register of Citzens.
A NRC was carried out in Assam to identify outsiders and it excluded 1.9 million people, both Hindu and Muslim. Comments by many BJP leaders that CAA would be a precursor to a nationwide NRC fanned these concerns. The government has since clarified that it does not have plans for a nationwide NRC.
A BJP leader told Hindustan Times that in the coming days, one can expect many more supporters of the CAA to come out vocally and in public to support the government move. “We’ve already seen Harish Salve, former solicitor general, and we can expect many other senior jurists and prominent people voice their support.’’
Over the past fortnight, as protests against CAA intensified, turning violent, especially in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP made it clear on December 21 that the party would go door-to-door and contact as many as 30 million households over the next ten daysto clear doubts about the new law.
BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav said last week said that top BJP leaders including ministers would address as many as 250 press conferences to this effect. Another BJP general secretary Arun Singh, in a letter asked party workers to encourage people to write to Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, who piloted the bill, to thank them for the legislation. the target should be 10 million letters, Singh said.
In the video , Vasudev said that there was discrimination in Pakistan and the other two countries (Afghanistan and Bangladesh) against minorities “by law”.
Sadhguru narrated his own interactions with Hindus from Pakistan to substantiate his point. He spoke of a man whose wife was abducted and married off to someone else because marriage through Hindu rituals was not recognized.
“In my opinion CAA is too little compassion coming too late,” Sadhguru said, adding that the protests against CAA seem like a “calibrated” effort to make minorities believe that their citizenship is at risk when it actually isn’t.
He also said that the bill wasn’t anti-Muslim.
However, the Twitter outreach also saw a counter response with the hashtag “India does not support CAA.’ Responding to the BJP campaign, opposition leader and Hyderabad MP, Asaduddin Owaisi said: “ They couldn’t find more Ministers & Spokespersons to contradict each other, so they’ve gotten a misinformed Baba….”. Others picked on Vasudev’s opening remarks where he starts off by saying he is yet to read the law completely.
“Our focus in the entire campaign will be to tell the people that it is wrong to think that muslims of India are being deprived,’’ said a BJP leader, “No one’s citizenship will be taken away, not from any community.’’
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