Uttar Pradesh BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh on Wednesday struck out at Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav for opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying that he should stay in Pakistan for a month to get first-hand experience of the "atrocities being faced by Hindus" there.
"Akhilesh should stay in Pakistan for a month and pray in Hindu temples. Only they will he get first-hand experience of atrocities committed against Hindus in Pakistan," the state BJP chief said. He also claimed that the amended law would not affect the country's poor, and accused Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of "misguiding" the people.
Mr Singh's said this in response to Akhilesh Yadav's declaration that he will not fill up the form for the National Population Register (NPR) -- which opposition parties claim will lead up to the NRC -- because it was an "assault" on the country's minority and economic backward communities.
"There is nothing wrong with the NPR. It only asks for everyday documents such as the Aadhaar card and driving licence, even confirmation by three neighbours, to establish that the person is a resident of the area," Mr Singh told reporters at a cow shelter in Vrindavan.
He also claimed that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was trying to misguide the people. "She visited victims of violence in Uttar Pradesh with the sole purpose of creating a ruckus. The Citizenship Act was amended with the people's best interests in mind," Mr Singh said.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution before 2015. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principals of the constitution.
The BJP leader, however, claimed that the law was not aimed at discriminating against any community. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are trying to ensure a respectable life for people subjected to atrocities in Pakistan through the Citizenship Amendment Act. Because of the negative messages being circulated by the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, neither Hindus nor Muslims will vote in their favour now," he said, asking protesters - including students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia - to read up on the law before condemning the government.
(With inputs from PTI)