CAA:The Mood of the Nation
The Congress party held a meeting with opposition parties to discuss protests over the CAA and the citizenship list, the NRC. However, two leaders, Mamata Banerjee of TMC (Trinamool Congress) and Mayawati of the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) did not attend. The AAP's Arvind Kejriwal also skipped the meeting.
The West Bengal Chief Minister was adamant about not attending the meeting, citing the trade union clashes last week, when workers of the Left allegedly attacked those of TMC, forcing a shut-down. Mayawati said she would not attend after all six of her MLAs in Rajasthan joined the Congress party last year.
The AAP said they had no indication of such a meeting, so there was no question of attending the meeting. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen called for unity in opposing the Citizenship Act, stating that 'if there was no unity, then it wouldn’t work'." Unity is important if the protest is for a proper cause," he observed.
There was a huge blow to opposition unity when six major regional parties -Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena, DMK as well as the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) did not attend the meeting; the latter stating they were not even invited.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi called the CAA 'a discriminatory and divisive law' that was sinister and intended to divide people on religious lines. The opposition has struggled to put up a united front in protests over CAA and NRC at a time when protests have erupted across the country, with civil society and political parties joining in.
Ally of the ruling BJP at the centre, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stated that a nationwide implementation of the NRC was needless and had no justification. The Bihar Chief Minister said that the county was witnessing huge turmoil and that everyone should remember that the NRC was an exercise confined to Assam as part of the accord, signed by the late Rajiv Gandhi.
Mr. Nitish Kumar said he was open to a debate on the CAA, signalling perhaps for the first time, his reservations about the controversial law that his party, the JD(U) had supported in parliament. His remarks come as a major climb-down after his support in parliament earlier. The Bihar Chief Minister's close aide, Prashant Kishor has drawn fresh battle lines with the BJP. He said that there would be no implementation of the citizenship law or the list in Bihar.
Mr. Kishor sealed the comment further by thanking Congress's Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, for their 'formal and unequivocal rejection of CAA and NRC. The Congress party had passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act as well as the National Citizenship Register at a meeting of the Working Committee - the highest decision-making body. His shout-out to the duo was an acknowledgement of their efforts to prevail over a section of Congress leaders, who seemed inclined to kow-tow the line of soft Hindutva.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella was asked about the ongoing protests against the newly implemented CAA, and said he was saddened by what had happened. "It's just bad. I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," he said.
The Microsoft CEO added that while countries should define their borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly, this was something that the people and governments would debate and define. His statement has not gone down well with the BJP, and party MP Meenakshi Lekhi trained her guns on him. Ms. Lekhi said it was 'a perfect example of educating the literate'.
In the midst of the CAA row, an incident in a Mumbai school in Matunga has emerged. An event at the Dayanand Balak Balika Vidyalaya was organized by the BJP. The school organized the event in support of the controversial CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). Students were asked to write post-cards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thanking him for the 'law'. The school has been issued a notice by the Maharashtra government.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had lashed out at the Maharashtra government for sending a notice to the school for 'an attempt to create awareness among children about a law passed in parliament'.
However, while responding to allegations that the party had used school children in an attempt to garner support for the CAA amidst protests across the country, he had no answers except to say,"Maine aapko jawaab de diya hai" (I have replied to your question), 27 times.
The BJP leader found he was unable to answer questions on raising CAA politics in a school, school children being warned about 'traitors' opposing the law, the right to tell small children about CAA first of all, and asking them to write post-cards to the Prime Minister, and the legitimacy of holding such an event in a school first of all.
In the course of the already acerbic atmosphere that prevails over the country, West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for 'not opening fire and ordering lathi-charge on those destroying public property during the anti-CAA protests across the state. Accusing her of not taking any action against such vandals because they were her voters, he added, "Our governments in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka shot these like dogs."
The statement kicked up a major controversy and drew criticism from his party colleagues and political rivals. Babul Supriyo was the first BJP leader to distance himself from the statement. "BJP as a party has nothing to do with Ghosh's statement. It is a figment of his imagination and the BJP governments in these states have never ever resorted to shooting people for whatsoever reason," he said, adding that it was 'very irresponsible of Dilipda' to have made such a statement. Mr. Ghosh however, was unfazed by the criticism and said that he stood by what he said; adding that if the party got a chance in West Bengal, they would handle it the same way.
The Kerala Government has gone ahead and filed a suit against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) in the Supreme Court. The Left Party led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought a direction, to declare the contentious citizenship law as 'unconstitutional'. The resolution was moved accusing the Modi government of dividing the nation on communal lines. Mr. Vijayan also confirmed that there would be no detention centres in the state, and that Kerala has a long history of secularism and the tradition of inclusiveness, which the state strived to maintain.