NEW DELHI: The debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill witnessed unusual moments with the BJP and the Congress quoting statements made by two illustrious leaders from the other camp, both of whom trace their roots back to Pakistan. BJP cited a statement made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to support the Bill while the Congress cited former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani to oppose it.
BJP working president J P Nadda targeted the Opposition for criticising the Bill and said the government was doing what Manmohan Singh had suggested. “In December 2003, on the treatment of refugees and persecution of minorities in countries like Bangladesh, Dr Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha said to then Deputy Prime Minister Advani ji that we should have a more liberal approach in granting citizenship to them,” Nadda said. He said the Congress cannot change its stance, now that it is in Opposition.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal countered by saying that Nadda conveniently ignored Advani’s response to Manmohan. “While Manmohan Singh had lobbied for citizenship to be granted to that fleeing persecution in our neighbouring States, Advani had said that refugees can never be on par with the citizens of India.
Quoting Advani, Sibal said, “Anyone fleeing religious persecution is a refugee, and cannot be equated with an illegal immigrant, but refugees can’t be at par with citizens.” Both parties were referring to the statements made by Singh and Advani on the Citizenship Bill of 2003 which dealt with provisions to define legal and illegal migrants and rules regarding Overseas Citizenship of India.