The Shiv Sena has accused the Centre of trying to bring an “invisible partition” among Hindus and Muslims through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which will be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, also questioned whether “selective acceptance” of Hindu illegal immigrants will act as a trigger for a religious war in the country.
The bill proposes to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians if they entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
It has sharply divided political and intellectual opinion with the Congress, Left parties, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) opposing religion as the criterion for citizenship and the pointed exclusion of Muslims.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s former ally also said “vote bank politics” under the garb of the bill is not in the interest of the country.
“There is no dearth of problems in India now but still we are inviting new ones such as CAB. It looks like the Centre has made an invisible partition of Hindus and Muslims over the bill,” the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.
The Sena, which has 18 members in the Lok Sabha, pointed out that most states in the northeast, West Bengal along with Bihar, where the BJP is sharing power with the Janata Dal(United), have opposed CAB “chiefly because immigrants are seen as a threat to their regional culture”.
At the same time, the Sena appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take strong action against some neighbouring countries that torture Hindus as he had taken against Pakistan.
“It is true that there is no other country for Hindus except Hindustan. But by accepting only Hindus among the illegal immigrants… Will it be a trigger of a religious war in the country?” the Sena questioned.
“Like Pakistan, PM Modi should teach a strong lesson to other neighbouring countries torturing the communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jains,” it said.
The Sena, which severed decades-old ties with the BJP recently to form a government with rivals NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, said the Prime Minister has already shown that certain things are “mumkin” (possible).
“Now, he should ensure that these communities won’t have to leave their respective countries with his similar adventurous actions. This would help in strengthening the country’s internal security as well,” the editorial said.
The Sena also said that the illegal immigrants living in India should be sent back to their countries of origin, a stated position of the BJP.
“The exact number of such illegal immigrants should be known. If it is in lakhs then where are they going to be settled in India?” it asked.
The Sena said the number of illegal immigrants in Maharashtra is already putting a lot of pressure on local bodies, in providing civic amenities.
“In such a scenario, states like Gujarat and Karnataka will have to play a major and humanitarian role to accommodate these immigrants,” the Sena said referring to the states where the BJP is in power.
The Shiv Sena’s senior leader Sanjay Raut also hit out at Union minister Amit Shah over the bill.
Raut said that though Hindus must be given citizenship, the BJP can rest allegations of creating a vote bank by not giving the immigrants voting rights.
“Illegal Intruders should be thrown out. immigrant Hindus must be given citizenship, but @AmitShah let’s give rest to allegations of creating vote bank & not give them voting rights, what say (sic)?” Raut tweeted.
He further said, “And yes what about pandits, have they gone back to kashmir after article 370 was removed (sic).”
The bill was cleared by the Union cabinet last week, fulfilling a key election promise of the ruling BJP. Several opposition parties said they will continue to oppose the draft bill, which they said linked citizenship to religion and therefore violated the Constitution.