Report belies BJP’s claim on citizenship for minorities
NEW DELHI: Senior BJP leader Baijayant Jay Panda’s claim that former President Pranab Mukherjee and other Congress leaders had supported granting of Indian citizenship to minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2003 is not borne out by a study of the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003.
Mukherjee had chaired the Rajya Sabha committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs. On January 8, Panda tweeted three screenshots and suggested that the Mukherjee-led panel had made a case for giving citizenship to only those refugees who belong to the minority community from the neighbouring countries, exactly what the Citizenship Amendment Act provides for.
The highlighted portions in the screenshot read, “Indian citizenship should be granted to Bangladeshi and Pakistani minority refugees. National identity cards should also be issued to these refugees. Citizenship should be granted only to Bangladeshi minority refugees and not to refugees belonging to majority community.”
The tweets suggest these were the final views of the committee. But according to the panel’s report, these were merely some suggestions the panel received from individuals and organisations in response to an advertisement published on June 2, 2003.
Another screenshot put out by Panda highlighted the composition of the parliamentary committee, which showed that besides Mukherjee, some other senior Congress leaders such as Kapil Sibal, Motilal Vora, Ambika Soni and RJD chief Lalu Prasad were also members of the committee.
Along with the screenshots, the ruling party leader wrote, “#CAA. No explanation is necessary; just have a quick glance at this parliamentary committee report from 2003, especially the names and highlighted portions.”
The committee eventually did not adopt the suggestions and went ahead with the stand taken by then BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee which refused to treat people, who have migrated to India from neighbouring countries due to religious and political persecutions, on a different footing. This newspaper reached out to Panda for a response but he was not available.