Shaheen Bagh won’t persuade government to climb down. PM is not for bending.
You have to be a complete knave or a fool to believe that the anti-CAA sit-ins at public thoroughfares in the national capital and elsewhere are completely voluntary. Even if over 90% of those keeping vigil at Shaheen Bagh are Muslim, and have all along hated Narendra Modi with a passion anyway, the role of money cannot be minimised. Despite the usual anti-Modi TV channels and the secularist print media embracing the protests as their own, it would be hard to believe that without generous cash hand-outs the hard-pressed housewives would have the time, energy and even motivation to brave the cold Delhi weather to perform the tamasha day after weary day.
Espying an opportunity to settle scores with Modi, who has had no compunction rubbing their noses in the dust these past six years, a major Opposition group and the petro-dollar-funded mullah-maulvi network have opened the purse-strings. Many more Shaheen Baghs can now be staged. An attempt to do so at Asaf Ali Road-Turkman Gate was foiled the other day in the nick of time. Similar efforts were made in a couple of Muslim-dominated places in Bihar towns but again were rebuffed by the local police. However, the original one in the capital is to be sustained till it ceases to be a place for photo-ops for Bollywood and political celebrities and others keen to renew their secularist-liberal credentials for the benefit of their peer groups.
But if you think Shaheen Bagh or the widespread anti-CAA violence in some states, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, will persuade the government to climb down, you haven’t then reckoned with the stuff the Prime Minister is made of. Modi is not for bending. Whether or not CAA is in consonance with the Constitution is now for the Supreme Court to decide, but what should matter to the vast majority of Indians, and not just the Muslims, is whether it is fair, just and humanitarian to fast-track citizenship to those six religious groups whose members are already living in India as refugees and who were driven by daily state-sponsored persecution in their home countries.
CAA is applicable to those already here since before 31 December 2014. A rough estimate suggests that in all it would benefit about 30,000-odd refugees get fast-track citizenship. All others, including Muslims, who had come before 2014, or even afterwards, must exercise the option of seeking citizenship as per the regular rules and regulations. As they say, you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Those hell-bent on fomenting trouble, disrupting public order, clearly, do not want to understand the actual change in the citizenship law. Because, if they do so their real objective to abuse Modi will be defeated.
However, regardless of the Shaheen Bagh show, got up especially, it would seem, for a New Delhi-based television group, which over a week has interviewed the same woman half-a-dozen times, each time suggesting as if it was a new protester, the government has little to worry. Copycat protests in a few public universities too would not cause anyone to lose their sleep. Youngsters are prone to flow with the momentary tide and then settle down to work for their future. But what could have been a cause of some concern, however, actually ended up being a complete damp squib. Of course, we are referring to the meeting of the Opposition groups called by the acting Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The meeting, convened to coordinate anti-CAA protests, was remarkable more for those who did not attend rather than for those who attended.
When Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, Stalin, Akhilesh Yadav and Arvind Kejriwal, and even that newly-converted secularist bhakt, Uddhav Thackeray, pointedly decided to give the meeting a miss, refusing to accord the Congress tsarina the position of primus inter pares among the Opposition leaders, what is left of the Opposition unity? Sharad Yadavs and D. Rajas and a few others of their ilk cannot help Sonia Gandhi realise the ambition of seeing Rahul Baba occupy the prime ministerial gaddi in her own lifetime and thus renew the Nehru-Gandhi lien on that highest democratically-elected position anywhere in the world.
Meanwhile, it is amusing to notice Muslim commentators fawning over those media pundits who are celebrating Shaheen Bagh as a venerated place of secularist unity. And treat it as a new bulwark against what they call fascist forces threatening to crush the Constitution. Without any sort of whataboutery, we still would like to mention but only one example to try and nudge the conscience of these sham secularists. Thirty years ago when Kashmiri Pandits were driven out from what had served as their homes for centuries, when their women were raped and men humiliated, and their properties plundered, these very commentators, now, post-CAA, desperately bonding with their “secularist” Hindu brothers, had all through maintained radio silence. Those spewing venom using CAA as an excuse, ought to pause and ponder why a vast majority of Indians welcome the new citizenship law as just, fair and humanitarian. Secularism cannot be a one-way street.
KEJRIWAL PLAYS SAFE
Have you noticed that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after initial anti-CAA noises, has fallen completely silent? Even the AAP’s Muslim MLAs, including the ever aggressive Amanatulah Khan from Okhla, after making an incendiary speech, have since fallen silent. Why? Because Kejriwal fears taking a clear-cut stand might cost him the votes of the majority community, especially of those from Bihar and UP who are daily at the receiving end of aggressive Muslim sectarianism in the shanty colonies they live in. However, the ever opportunistic Kejriwal has found a clever way of keeping his foot in both camps. Importing from the Congress a couple of local Muslim leaders, who are viscerally anti-CAA, he has fielded them from Muslim-majority constituencies in next month’s Assembly poll. Incidentally, Khan was one of the AAP leaders who had roughed up then Delhi Chief Secretary, Anshu Prakash, in the presence of Kejriwal at the latter’s house at midnight because Prakash would not carry out arbitrary orders of the Chief Minister.
COMMUNAL OMISSIONS OF OLD
They say CAA is illegal because it discriminates against Muslims. Now consider this. The government has now abolished the reservation of two Lok Sabha seats for nomination of Anglo-Indians. Could it now turn around and argue the provision in the Constitution was discriminatory since it ignored the equally valid claim for similar reservations of Parsis and Jews? So let us be realistic. Leaving out Muslims from CAA makes sense since all three countries listed are self-avowedly Islamic. You don’t carry coal to Newcastle, do you?