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Rahul, Mamata must realise sovereignty is the soul of India, not imported vote banks: Jaitley on NRC row

Accusing the Congress and Trinamool Congress of compromising the sovereignty of India on the NRC issue, Union minister Arun Jaitley said political leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee must realise that sovereignty and citizenship are the soul of India and not “imported vote banks”.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2018 12:02 IST
New Delhi
NRC,BJP,Congress
Hitting out at the Congress, Arun Jaitley said it was a mainstream party of Indian politics, but had increasingly started taking “fringe positions” contrary to the stands taken by former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.(Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

Accusing the Congress and Trinamool Congress of compromising the sovereignty of India on the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue, Union minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said political leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee must realise that sovereignty and citizenship are the soul of India and not “imported vote banks”.

“Leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee must realise that India’s sovereignty is not a play thing,” Jaitley, who is a Rajya Sabha member and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, wrote in a critical Facebook post.

Hitting out at the Congress, Jaitley said it was a mainstream party of Indian politics, but had increasingly started taking “fringe positions” contrary to the stands taken by former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

“India’s sovereignty is paying a heavy price because of the quality of its political discourse. Though Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajiv Gandhi took a particular position in 1972 and 1985 for the deletion and deportation of foreigners, Rahul Gandhi takes a contrarian position and his party turns turtle,” the Union minister wrote in his blog.

The opposition Congress and Trinamool Congress have disrupted Rajya Sabha proceeding for the last three days over the draft NRC published in Guwahati on Monday that left out four million residents of Assam. The NRC exercise is aimed at identification and deportation of illegal immigrants.

Post-independence, it was not only protecting the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir that posed a major challenge to independent India, Jaitley said. “At the time of independence and partition of India, Assam was also a sore issue for Pakistan. They resented the fact that like Kashmir, Assam became a part of Independent India.”

Charging the West Bengal CM with changing her stand on the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Jaitley said that as a federal front leader, Banerjee was also taking a contrary view. “Can India’s sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands?”

The Union minister also debunked the argument that dropping four million people from the NRC was a human rights issue. “A refugee on account of persecution may have a humanitarian consideration. Illegal migration does not have it. There is not fundamental right to any person to do so,” he said.

Reacting to Jaitley’s blog, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said the BJP was playing politics over the NRC in the belief that it would help the party’s prospects in the 2019 general election. “Only if the former minister had cared to read what the Congress President’s view is, he would have saved his time and energy to write this entire fiction blog. The fact that cannot be denied is that UPA (United Progressive Alliance) was committed to the cause of deporting non-Indians, irrespective of their religion.”

Nekibur Zaman, a Guwahati-based lawyer and former vice-chairman of the Northeast Bar Council, said, “Political parties, whether the BJP or Congress, have only been interested in their respective vote banks. The main issue is that indigenous Assamese, whether Hindu or Muslim, need to be protected. The updated NRC published on July 30 has been possible because of the Supreme Court’s directions. For three decades, no party has shown actual interest in solving the problem.”

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 23:04 IST