Thursday, April 25, 2024

CAA as poll plank


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It is clear by now that the Modi government would fight the coming general elections on the plank of CAA – the citizenship amendment act – that was passed in both houses of Parliament in 2019 but its implementation held back amid protests from Muslim outfits and the eruption of the Covid19 pandemic. Yet, there’s no clarity as to why the BJP-led NDA government pussy-footed over this matter in the past five years and announced its implementation weeks before the parliament polls. A safe assumption is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP need a campaign plank for the BJP. Last time, they had one, namely the surgical strikes. That the Modi government brought about a “lot of progress,” will in itself not suffice to sway the voter mood. The claims of “India Shining” during the 2004 polls, after the AB Vajpayee term at the Centra did not cut much ice with the voters. The electorate brought the Congress to power. The BJP failed to win votes in Karnataka in the recent assembly polls despite the massive implementation of NH and other projects there. The BJP is sure now that the Congress and the Left and also Muslim organisations would raise a hue and cry right at the doorsteps of the parliament polls. The battle lines can thus be drawn, and the BJP hopes to smile its way through such a cacophony.
The CAA is an amendment to the 64-year-old Citizenship law, which prevents illegal immigrants from becoming Indian citizens. The amendment brought about in 2019 aimed at granting citizenship rights to various religious groups other than Muslims who came in from neighbouring nations till December 31, 2014. The beneficiaries would be Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. Other than the Parsis, the others came mostly from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan. Alongside, the provisions of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) etc., would make sure that Muslims who came in and settled down here from these countries are deported. The matter is already before the Supreme Court through a stock over 200 petitions from the Congress, the Left, Muslim groups etc., that say religious discrimination against Muslims is against the secular nature of the Indian Constitution that granted equal rights to all. The government counters this with the argument that illegal migrants from other countries are not citizens and cannot demand Constitutional protection. More cases are bound to be filed in the SC in the coming days and no immediate implementation of CAA or deportation is likely. There’s no easy escape for the government from these legal tangles. However, the present ploy is bound to help the BJP in the Parliament elections.


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