Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien delivered an impassioned speech on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill today, warning the Rajya Sabha the country was "moving from a democracy to a dictatorship". In his address Mr O'Brien invoked images from Nazi Germany and compared them to the Citizenship Bill and the NRC, starting with an "eerie similarity" between the infamous concentration camps of the time and detention camps in North East India today that house lakhs of people, including those excluded from the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise carried out earlier this year.
Mr O'Brien, who began his address with a few words in Bengali, started with a caution to the centre, saying; "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. I want to go back 84 years to two laws passed in Nazi Germany... laws that have an eerie similarity to laws passed today".
"In 1933 there were concentration camps... in 2018 we have detention camps where, by the way, 60 per cent are Bengali Hindus. In 1935 there were citizenship laws to protect people with German blood... today we have a faulty bill (referring to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, or CAB) that wants to define who true Indian citizens are," Derek O'Brien said.
"In 1935 you needed an identity to prove your Aryan lineage... you were given something called an 'ancestor pass'. In 2018 you need a piece of paper to prove you are an Indian citizen. In 1940 there was a plan to deport Jews... called Madagascar Plan. In 2018 we have the 'Maha' Plan, also called NRC," he continued.
The Trinamool Congress leader also reminded the Rajya Sabha that the Nazis, in an attempt to dehumanise Jews, referred to them as "rats".
"In the German copybook Jews were called 'rats'... today we are talking about 'termites', 'vermin' and 'cockroaches'... words used by the Prime Minister sometimes and the Home Minister," he raged, referring to a remark by Amit Shah, who led the centre's push on the Citizenship Bill in the Lok Sabha and did so again today in the Rajya Sabha.
In September, Mr Shah, addressing a rally in Delhi, lashed out illegal immigrants. "These crores of illegal immigrants are like termites and they are eating the food that should go to our poor and they are taking our jobs," he said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which sailed through the Lok Sabha on Monday with 334 in favour and 106 votes against after a seven-hour debate, seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered the country before 2015 to become Indian citizens. The bill has been fiercely protested by the opposition, which includes the Congress and Mr O'Brien's Trinamool Congress, which alleges it discriminates against Muslims and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.