In a significant development, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens. He extended his support to the Muslim community on this front. This marks a complete departure from the TDP’s earlier stance on the CAA as it had voted in favour of the legislation in both Houses of the Parliament.
Naidu’s remarks came at the start of the ‘Praja Chaitanya Yatra’ to create awareness about the alleged misdeeds of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh.
Former AP CM Chandrababu Naidu remarked, "Whether it is CAA, NPR or NRC, we will stand with Muslims."
The Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in May 2018. When the Citizenship Amendment Bill was initially tabled in Lok Sabha in January 2019, he opined that it was "against the interest of the indigenous people of Assam and North East”. Moreover, he accused the Centre of playing “communal politics”.
At that juncture, he declared that his MPs would vote against the aforesaid legislation in Rajya Sabha. However, TDP suffered a big defeat in the state assembly as well as the Lok Sabha elections. The YSR Congress Party not only secured a whopping 22 Lok Sabha seats but also won a huge majority in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
On the other hand, BJP won 303 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. Over the years, the YSRCP and BJP have reportedly strengthened their ties. Therefore, TDP’s move to support the CAA was perceived as a tactic to mend fences with its former ally BJP.
The CAA seeks to provide citizenship to the minority communities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This will be applicable to the members of these communities having arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014. Moreover, they will not be considered as illegal migrants. Additionally, the mandatory residence period for naturalised citizenship for these communities has been reduced to five years. The opposition contends that the Act discriminates on the basis of religion.