The BJP-led Central government on Monday targeted the Congress by alleging that the Opposition party was trying to poison the atmosphere of the country by spreading misinformation regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Minister of State (MoS) for Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh said that everyone has a right to protest against the government but should not indulge in spreading misinformation.
Speaking to news agency ANI, he said, "In a democracy, everyone is at liberty to do as he or she wants. The CAA has not altered the Section 6 of Citizenship Act, by virtue of which any foreigner, be it Italian or Pakistani can apply for Indian citizenship provided they meet the criteria." The senior BJP leader stated that there was a concerted effort by the opposition to malign the Modi government on the issue of NRC.
"Whenever NRC happens it has to go through due process laid down by the Constitution of India. I do not understand why so much fear-mongering is happening. I would pointedly say there is no correlation between CAA and NRC. First, we should dispel this impression. Do not try to link the two. First, separately discuss CAA. Do not change goalposts. NRC is not under discussion," he added. The Union minister pointed out that a similar clarification was also made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Sunday address from Ramlila Maidan. "PM's speech at Delhi's Ramlila ground should suffice and when he speaks, we have every reason to trust him. It is audacious that Congress isn't trusting PM's words," he said.
The minister alleged that the doubts and scepticism about CAA could be motivated by people with vested interests. "Muslims from outside have not been barred from getting the citizenship of India. That is because, under section 6 of the Citizenship act of 1955, there is a provision for any foreigner including foreign Muslims to apply for citizenship of India provided he or she fulfils the criteria laid down. That section remains unaltered, unchanged and undisturbed," he said. "There is no linkage in citizenship criteria and citizenship privilege available to any community from any part of the world, as a result of CAA," he added.
At least 18 people have died in Uttar Pradesh due to violence during protests, around a thousand have been arrested and many others booked. In the wake of violent protests, on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to calm the situation by assuring that the CAA will not affect a single India citizen irrespective of religion. Despite PM Modi's message, however, protests continue across the country in full swing. On Monday, three mega rallies, two anti-CAA rallies, and one demonstration in favour of the Act were held. Rahul Gandhi led one anti-CAA protest at Delhi's Rajghat while DMK organised another from CMDA office to Rajarathinam Stadium. Meanwhile, BJP's JP Nadda held a counter-rally supporting CAA in Kolkata.
(With ANI inputs)