They have tweeted and appeared on television to argue for and against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 and National Register of Citizens (NRC) but now BJP’s Amit Malviya and Congress Salman Khurshid have chosen to take the battle to the literary world.
Both have joined hands to write ‘The Citizenship Debate: CAA and NRC’ — to argue the case from their viewpoints, which Khurshid describes as a “somewhat novel” approach to explore “two competing viewpoints” in a single book.
In around 100 pages each, BJP IT Cell head Malviya writes ‘A Case of Misreading’ while former Union Minister Khurshid pens ‘A Case of Misdirection’ to find out what is right and wrong about the controversial legislation and the subsequent protests against CAA-NPR (National Population Register)-NRC.
Malviya rues that every attempt has been made to show that the CAA has been projected as “furtherance of the Hindutva” by the ruling BJP and insists that it is “wrong to say that this is a step towards Hindu Rashtra”.
He argues that it was just a step towards a policy that “rejects appeasement politics, pandering to particular groups, and assuring the rights of those minorities who are facing religious persecution at the hands of extremists, rogue states and agents provocateurs”.
Malviya believes that the “entire debate on the CAA, and the violent protests and the riots” were all part of a political scheme aimed at “unsettling” the BJP government.
He also alleges that frustration grew among the Opposition and anti-BJP activists after the Supreme Court verdict on Ram temple, which came after the revocation of Article 370 and re-organisation of Jammu and Kashmir, and this prompted them to “stoke discontent” among Muslims.
Malviya, who led the BJP’s fight against the anti-CAA protests in the virtual world, claims that when these protests turned violent, the opponents tried to show that the Muslims were the targets, “despite the fact that such protests were Muslim-led or inspired rioters who had gone berserk” though an “attempt was desperately made to show Hindus in a bad light”.
Countering the argument, Khurshid writes that it is “undeniable” that the trigger may have been the “spontaneous reaction” in Muslim-dominated areas and institutions but from the beginning, it was “truly an inclusive endeavour untouched by party political ambition”. He went on to argue that Shaheen Bagh and Jamia protesters have become “role models for thousands of protest sites across the country” and never before has the theme of patriotism been expressed and highlighted in protests with such intensity.
While Malviya claims that there is no link with CAA, NPR or NRC, Khurshid argues that the people cannot be blamed for “reading motives” as the problem is that the candidates for citizenship are to be identified by their religion and a virtual presumption of persecution”.
Malviya also seeks to bring in a Pakistan angle by claiming that the intelligence agencies had unearthed a “more sinister plot” by tapping “cross-country electronic chatter wherein
people believed to be Pakistani operatives were berating their sources for not organizing enough crowds for anti-CAA protests on 3–4 March 2020, despite the funding at their disposal”.
In the book, Khurshid questions the exclusion of religious minorities from neighbouring countries other than Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as well as Ahmadiyas and Baloch of Pakistan.
“The government has been at pains to prove that no Indian citizen need to worry about CAA and in any case, that it is about granting citizenship and not taking it away…Indian citizens need not worry; but those who are unable to establish their citizenship have a great deal to worry,” he writes while adding that the “real sting” is that the arguably intended beneficiaries will be at a loss to establish their Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan citizenship having failed to establish their Indian citizenship.