At all party meeting, BJP gets a word of advice from Akali Dal leader
A leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, which has been uncomfortable about the contentious citizenship law, on Thursday asked the BJP government not to pass legislation that divides people. Lawmakers should not pass legislation which will hurt citizens and the minorities, Akali Dal leader Sardar Balwinder Singh Bunder told an all party meeting on Thursday.
The Rajya Sabha member’s remark comes against the backdrop of protests in parts of the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed during Parliament’s Winter session.
The Akali Dal has gone along with the Bharatiya Janata Party on the citizenship law all along but had recently tweaked its position on the law for a few weeks. Earlier this month, the party had also called off its alliance with the BJP for the Delhi elections and cited their disagreement over the citizenship law as a key factor.
The Akalis later changed the party’s position and have extended its complete support to the BJP in the Delhi elections. Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Singh Badal yesterday attributed their previous disagreement to a “misunderstanding”.
“We have always supported the citizenship amendment act as it directly affects the Sikhs who suffered at the hands of Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan,” Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters on Wednesday, sitting next to BJP boss JP Nadda.
It was in this context that the Akali Dal representative’s emphasis on minorities at Thursday’s all-party meeting came as a surprise to many opposition leaders.
Opposition leaders have been critical of the law, charging the government with introducing a religion test to extend fast-track citizenship requests from undocumented migrants from three neighbouring countries.
At Thursday’s meeting, all of them except the AIADMK were severely critical of the citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
Opposition leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ram Gopal Yadav, also called for the release of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar.