Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien delivering his speech over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, told the Upper House of the Parliament that the country was pacing itself from a "democracy to dictatorship." The Trinamool leader equated Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime to that of the current BJP-led government. In his analogy, Derek O'Brien claimed that the government has drafted this Bill from the Nazi copybook. Going back 84 years, the Trinamool MP rigidly opposed the Bill saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. I want to go back, 84 years when two distinct laws were passed by Nazi Germany. There is an eerie similarity to laws passed today."
In his speech, Derek O'Brien drew similarities between the 1933 concentration camps and the 2018 detention camps in Assam. He said, "In 1933 concentration camps, 2018 detention camps. By the way, in the detention camps, 60% are Bengali Hindus. In 1935, there were citizenship laws to protect people with German blood. What do we have today? We have a faulty Citizenship Bill. We are criticising it because they are trying to define who true Indian citizens are."
"In 1935, you needed an identity to prove your Aryan lineage, so you were given an 'ancestor pass'. What is it today? You rely on a piece of paper, to prove your Indian citizenship," Derek O'Brien added. Accentuating his argument, he likened the 1940 Madagascar Plan to deport Jews from Germany to that of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 2018. Derek O'Brien held the Prime Minister and Home Minister responsible for 'dehumanizing' refugees. Derek O'Brien reminded the Rajya Sabha that the Nazis referred to Jews as 'rats' and called out Amit Shah's 'termites' remark over illegal immigrants.
He said, "In 1940, there was a plan to deport Jews, they called it the Madagascar Plan. In 2018 we have the 'Maha' Plan, also known as the NRC. What is the lie today? India is under threat. This is the language being used." "In the German copybook, the Jews were referred to as 'rats'. What are we talking about today? 'Termites', 'cockroaches', 'vermin'. These words are not used by some party workers. These words are being used by the Prime Minister and Home Minister," Derek O'Brien added.
After the conclusion of a 7-hour-long debate, which saw the participation of 38 MPs from across the political spectrum, the Lok Sabha on Monday midnight passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 with 311 votes in favor and 80 against the Bill. Opposition leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Saugata Roy, N K Premchandran, Gaurav Gogoi, Shashi Tharoor, and Assaduddin Owaisi opposed the introduction of the bill in the Lok Sabha. Citizenship (Amendment Bill) seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there, saying it was violative of various provisions of the Constitution, including a move to grant citizenship on the basis of religion.
The tabling of the emotive Citizenship (Amendment) Bill comes even as there were protests and incidents of violence in Northeastern states with most of the student unions and regional political parties opposing it, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion. The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure and got Lok Sabha's approval. But it did not introduce it in Rajya Sabha, apparently due to vehement protests in the Northeast and lack of majority in the House.
(With PTI inputs)