Union home minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah led senior ministers and party leaders in a door-to-door campaign as part of a nationwide outreach campaign in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that has sparked fierce protests across India.
Shah visited homes in Lajpat Nagar and other parts of south Delhi and talked to people about the benefits of the amended citizenship law, which fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He also distributed literature on the subject and was seen urging people to take out their mobile phones to give a missed call to a toll-free number the BJP has launched to register support for the law.
‘Your support to the law has now reached Modi ji,’ he told members of a family after they dialled the number.
While Shah was in Delhi, other top party leaders like Rajnath Singh and Nirmala Sitharaman visited different parts of the country as part of the 10-day campaign.
Union defence minister Singh said on Sunday that people should not have any misconception about the amended citizenship law.
On a day’s visit to his Lok Sabha constituency of Lucknow, Singh mobilised support for the CAA.
‘Our party has decided to give a message to the people that they should not have any misconceptions about CAA. The Indian culture teaches us ‘Sarvdharma Sambhav’ and a Hindustani cannot discriminate on lines of caste and religion,’ he said.
His visit comes days after widespread violence during protests against the law, which officials said left 21 people dead in Uttar Pradesh.
The message of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) had gone from India to the entire world, Singh said, adding ‘Indian cultural values cannot by violated by our party.’ The defence minister also circulated pamphlets on the CAA and requested the media and party workers to go through them.
In Jaipur, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress of indulging in appeasement politics and creating confusion over the CAA. Sitharaman claimed that the Congress was different from the one which had led the freedom movement as it now stood with those who commit violence.
‘The Opposition is creating confusion and misleading people over the issue of CAA. Congress president Sonia Gandhi released a video statement but she did not condemn the violence (during protests). The Congress is standing with those who committed violence,’ she said.
‘They are not habitual of staying away from power. They are in the habit of doing appeasement politics,’ she alleged. About the citizenship issue, she said religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have faced persecution in their countries and sought asylum in India during the last six decades.
‘In the last six years, over 2,000 refugees, mostly Muslims, who have come from Pakistan got Indian citizenship. In the same period, more than 900 people, mostly Muslims, from Afghanistan and nearly 200 people, mostly Muslims, from Bangladesh also got citizenship. There is no exclusion. Even today, they can acquire citizenship under the Citizenship Act,’ Sitharaman said.
She said the Congress, in its election manifestos, had promised citizenship to religious minorities arriving here from neighbouring countries. But now, when the Narendra Modi government was doing it, they were siding with those involved in violence, the Union minister alleged.
In New Delhi, BJP working president JP Nadda claimed that his party worked on the basis of ‘ideology’ and not ‘nepotism.’
‘Other parties if they have a leader, don’t have a strategy. Some do not have intentions to work. If they organise a program, they do not have workers. But BJP has leadership of Modi ji and also has support at the international level. The party has leadership at booth level also,’ he added.
In Thiruvananthapuram, minister Kiren Rijiju visited the houses of some prominent citizens, including Malayalam writer and Kerala Sahitya Akademi award winner George Onakkoor.
Rijiju explained to him the stand of BJP and the Centre on the controversial CAA. The writer, however, told the minister it was not fair to have excluded members of one religion from the purview of the act.
Rijiju replied the act was not against any particular religion and pointed out that earlier the National Democratic Alliance government had given citizenship to ‘good Muslims’, like singer Adnan Sami. ‘By good Muslims, we mean those who are not criminals,’ the minister explained.
‘I wanted to meet some prominent personalities… The literacy rate in Kerala is very high. The awareness level is very high. So I am sure and have full confidence that Kerala people, especially the youth, will not be misguided by the anti-social elements who are working day and night to destroy the social fabric of India,’ the minister said.
In Hyderabad, minister G Kishan Reddy accused the opposition parties, including the Congress, of trying to create a fear psychosis.
‘No Muslim in the country will be affected by the CAA and the Narendra Modi government brought the act for the well being of all… None of the Indian Muslims will be asked to leave the country and no Muslim needs to feel threatened,’ the minister of state for home said.
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