The BJP will focus on passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill once it returns to power after the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today, indicating that the party has no plans to back off on an issue that spurred intense protests in the Northeast for months.
Addressing an election rally in Assam's Silchar, PM Modi said that the legislation - aimed at making it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring countries to obtain Indian citizenship - will be implemented after "proper consultations with all sections of society". He, however, assured the people of Assam that their language, culture and identity will be protected when the legislation is taken up for consideration again.
Although the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, it could not be introduced in the upper house. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who believes that the legislation is unabashedly communal, has vowed to prevent it from getting through the Rajya Sabha.
The Prime Minister, in his address, shredded the allegation that the legislation is founded on religious discrimination. "The Congress did not consider minorities in Pakistan while dividing the country during Independence. The fundamentalists tortured our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Is Congress not responsible for this? People going to mandirs and gurudwaras in Bangladesh and Pakistan had to come to India," he said, adding that the "sins of the Congress turned such people into foreigners in their own land".
PM Modi also promised to do everything in his power to safeguard Muslim women from the "curse of triple talaq". "We will strongly try to pass the legislation after we come to power at the centre," he said. "Even if the Congress and other opposition parties try, they will not be able to do anything (to stop the legislation). Our daughters will get justice."
Triple talaq, a much-criticised Islamic practice, allows a man to divorce his wife by uttering the word "talaq" three times.
The Prime Minister quoted sources as saying that the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections witnessed a "huge wave" working in the BJP's favour. "Now that the people have decided in our favour, it will be difficult for the opposition to survive. All the five seats in Assam (which went to the polls today) will be won by the BJP and NDA," he claimed.
The BJP's Twitter handle quoted party president Amit Shah as expressing a similar sentiment on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), an initiative aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants. "We will ensure implementation of the NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs: Shri @AmitShah (sic)," the tweet read.
(With inputs from PTI)