Amid the ongoing political bickering over exclusion of names of over 40 lakh people from the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft, Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday launched an all-out offensive against Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee. Also Read - ‘Shameful to Treat Indian Citizens Like This,’ Says Rahul Gandhi on Exodus of Migrants Due to Lockdown
In his Facebook blog named “National Register of Citizens – Sovereignty vs Vote Bank”, Jaitley took a jibe at the Congress for siding with the “Tukde Tukde” gang, an apparent indication towards small parties that Congress is joining hands with in an attempt to create an anti-BJP united front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Jaitley further accused the Congress and TMC of “compromising the sovereignty of India”. Also Read - More Nuanced, Compassionate Approach Required to Deal With Crisis: Rahul Gandhi on Lockdown
“Leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee must realise that India’s sovereignty is not a play thing. Sovereignty and citizenship are the soul of India. Imported vote banks are not,” he wrote in his blog post. Also Read - Arvind Kejriwal Assures CMs Over Migrants, Says 'Will do Everything Possible to Help Them'
The Union minister also accused Rahul Gandhi of taking a “contrarian position” on the issue of “deletion and deportation of foreigners” as compared to the “particular positions” taken by former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in 1972 and 1985 respectively.
“Rahul Gandhi takes a contrarian position and his party turns turtle,” he wrote.
Jaitley also slammed Mamata Banerjee over her punitive attacks against the Modi government over the Assam NRC issue. “Similarly, the BJP ally of 2005, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, took a particular position. As a federal front leader, she now talks to the contrary. Can India’s sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands?” he wrote.
Jaitley quoted her statement in the Lok Sabha in 2005 when TMC was a BJP ally, to show her change of stand on the issue of illegal immigrants to gain political mileage.
“To put it in the words of the Trinamool Congress leader and the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has stated in the Lok Sabha on 4.8.2005:”
“The infiltration in Bengal has become a disaster now. You can see the Bangladeshi as well as the Indian names in the list. I have both the Bangladeshi and the Indian voters list. This is a very serious matter. I would like to know when would it be discussed in the House?”
Mamata Banerjee had on Tuesday warned exclusion of 4 million people from NRC in Assam could lead to “bloodbath” and a “civil war” in the country. She also accused the Modi government of trying to make millions of people “stateless” in Assam for political gains.
Names of over 40 lakh people in Assam do not figure in the draft NRC, which is being prepared to identify illegal migrants in the state. The second draft of the NRC was published in Guwahati earlier this week.
Opposition Congress and TMC has stalled the functioning of the Rajya Sabha for two days over the issue.
“A desperate argument has been given that this is a human rights cause. 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,” Jaitley said.
Territory and citizens are the two most important aspects of a sovereign state, he said.
“The principal duty of any Government is to defend the borders of the country, prevent any trespass and make the life of its citizens safe and secure. Independent India has faced a major challenge to protect its sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir.
“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,” Jaitley added.
Jaitley, who is also the leader of the Rajya Sabha, said “the Congress was the mainstream party on Indian politics. It has increasingly started taking fringe position. Siding with the ‘Tukde Tukde’ gang was one such illustration.”
He said “historically, both Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Rajeev Gandhi, through the Congress Government that they headed, committed to this nation that post March 25, 1971, migrants would be detected, identified and deported”.
Jaitley further said that some pre-1971 migrants may have come to India for reasons of persecution, but the same is not true of all post-1971 migrants who have illegally entered the country.
“There is a third category who are neither citizens nor refugees, who come for reasons of economic opportunities. These are illegal migrants. Their entry is silent invasion in the country to which they move,” he said.