Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday questioned the ongoing protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Shaheen Bagh. Ramesh said that the protests are serving the BJP's "communal interest and also helped communal Muslim interests." He also mentioned that the people in Shaheen Bagh, the epicenter of anti-CAA protests, should agitate against the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) if they are worried that their citizenship is going to be taken away from them.
Speaking to the media Ramesh said, "I don't understand what Shaheen Bagh people are protesting about. Are they worried that their citizenship is going to be taken away from them? That is a legitimate fear. Then they should agitate against NPR and NRC. Why are they only agitating against CAA? I understand the emotion and sentiments. Initially (protest) in four days, five days...but after a while, I think it served the BJP's interest to keep Shaheen Bagh going, it served the communal Muslim interests to keep Shaheen Bagh going. These protests helped the BJP, but it also helped the communal outfits."
"Frankly, beyond a point of time, I did not go to Shaheen Bagh. The BJP wants to exclude certain communities from the CAA... BJP's policy is one of excluding Muslims. We want to include everybody. Tamils from Sri Lanka, Christians from Bhutan, Ahamedias from Pakistan... Citizenship should not be based on religion. That is our fundamental position because that was rejected by our Constitution makers and it violates Article 14 of our Constitution." Ramesh added.
Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mani Shankar Aiyar had visited Shaheeh Bagh in January to express solidarity with those protesting against the amended citizenship act. Ramesh, however, hit out at the BJP-led Central government for bringing amendments to the Citizenship Act, claiming it was brought to divide the people on the basis of religion. The Congress party's stand on the amended Act was very clear, he said.
The Congress party ended up securing zero seats in the 2020 Delhi assembly polls, a repeat of its 2015 no-show, following which significant infighting has broken out within the party.
(with PTI inputs)