BJP pulls out old video of Manmohan Singh on citizenship, Cong defends former PM
In the video, Singh, then Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is speaking in the Upper House on December 18, 2003, during a discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003.Updated: Dec 19, 2019 18:06 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday pulled out an old video of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking in the Rajya Sabha in 2003 in support of the citizenship for persecuted minorities in countries like Bangladesh even as the Congress strongly defended him.
In the video, Singh, then Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is speaking in the Upper House on December 18, 2003, during a discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003.
“While I am on this subject, Madam, I would like to say something, about the treatment of refugees. After the partition of our country, the minorities in countries like Bangladesh, have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people, these unfortunate people, to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal. I sincerely hope that the honourable Deputy Prime Minister (LK Advani) will bear this in mind in charting out the future course of action with regard to the Citizenship Act,” he said.
In 2003, speaking in Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, then Leader of Opposition, asked for a liberal approach to granting citizenship to minorities, who are facing persecution, in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. Citizenship Amendment Act does just that... pic.twitter.com/7BOJJMdkKa— BJP (@BJP4India) December 19, 2019
Singh’s remarks prompted the then Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah to comment, “Mr Advani, the minorities in Pakistan are also suffering. They have to be taken care of too.”
For his part, Advani said, “Madam, I fully endorse what the Leader of the Opposition said.”
However, the Congress defended Singh’s remarks.
“The video quote being attributed to Dr Manmohan Singh is obviously yet another example of BJP’s propaganda machinery subverting facts by showing partial, out of context and selective footage,” Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said.
He said Singh’s statement was with regards to classification of legal or illegal migrants and not citizenship.
“Secondly, as the Congress party has been saying since long, it is more than abundantly clear now that the entire intent behind bringing the CAA in 2019, after a deeply flawed and divisive NRC is to create a fictitious “other”, an “enemy” against whom communal polarization can be engineered. This was not the case in 2003 and Shri Adwani was not then threatening people with a nationwide NRC exercise,” he added.
“Now that the BJPs polarisation game is being exposed threadbare, it is doing what it does best, spreading half truths and selective out of context information. The aim is not to help minorities from three named countries, but ensuring communal polarisation,” Jha further said.
He said the Congress party stands unequivocally with the persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, as much as it stands with such minorities from other neighbouring countries.