The Bharatiya Janata Party has once again displayed its unmistakable bigotry. On Thursday, April 11, it tweeted, "We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs," attributing to BJP President Amit Shah.
BJP President Amit Shah. | HT Photo
Shah has long engaged in communal, divisive rhetoric. In September 2018, when speaking at a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan, he said “These crores of illegal immigrants are like termites and they are eating the grain that should go to our poor and they are taking our jobs. They carry out blasts in our country and so many of our people die,” adding, "I want to assure you that if we come to power in 2019, we will find them one by one and send them away," The Telegraph reported. Shah stated, "After forming government in 2019, the BJP will undertake a nationwide identification of illegal infiltrators living in the country."
On Wednesday, he echoed his remarks from September, saying at a rally in Raiganj, West Bengal, "The illegal immigrants are like termites. They are eating the grain that should go to the poor, they are taking our jobs," adding, "The T of TMC stands for Tushtikaran, (appeasement), M for Mafia and C for Chitfunds," The Hindu reported. Shah declared that after the BJP is re-elected, it would find these termites and throw them out, but said that Buddhist and Hindu refugees would be granted Indian citizenship.
The "NRC" in the BJP’s tweet refers to Assam’s National Register of Citizens, of which a draft was published in July 2018; more than 40 lakh people were excluded from the list, leaving their Indian citizenship in jeopardy. The process for the NRC has been marred with problems, including technical glitches and human error. There are have been more than 40 suicides in the state related to the NRC. This puts Bengali Hindus in a precarious position, because while the July 2018 draft NRC has excluded them in large numbers, the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would grant them Indian citizenship.
Moreover, the BJP seems to conveniently forget that secularism is enshrined in the Indian Constitution, and that granting citizenship based on religion is, in fact, unconstitutional. Notably, the a seven-judge Constitution Bench, in January 2017, ruled that "seeking votes in the name of religion, caste or community amounted to corrupt practice and election of a candidate who indulged in it can be set aside," LiveLaw then reported. Shah would do well to remember that campaigning for votes in the name of religion is strictly prohibited per the Election Model Code of Conduct.