New Delhi: The CPI-M on Wednesday strongly opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha before voting against it. On Sunday party chief Sitaram Yechury held a press conference in Delhi to articulate why the Bill was against the “secular fabric” of India. But a few years back, the party’s stance was different.
The CPI-M had demanded a Citizenship Amendment Bill for people fleeing religious persecution in Bangladesh and its then chief Prakash Karat had in 2012 written to former PM Manmohan Singh reminding him about it.
Not only the CPI-M, the Congress had also advocated the same.
Karat wrote, “This is to draw your attention to the citizenship problems of a large number of refugees from erstwhile East Bengal and those who had to flee their country after the formation of Bangladesh in circumstances over which they had no control. Their situation is different from those who have come to India due to economic reasons. While we advocate a humane approach to all sections, on the specific issue of citizenship we share the opinion you had strongly advocated as leader of the Opposition when it was debated in Parliament in 2003.”
In other words, Karat said on the “specific issue of citizenship”, he agreed with Singh that those fleeing Bangladesh into India deserve Indian citizenship.
Reminding what Manmohan Singh said on the floor of the House in 2003 to then Deputy PM L.K. Advani, the letter goes on to articulate the stand of both the CPI-M and the Congress which is quite different from the one witnessed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.
Karat had sought to remind Singh of his 2003 speech in the letter written in 2012: “At that time you had stated: ‘With regard to the treatment of refugees after the Partition of our country, the minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation that our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal. I sincerely hope that the Hon’ble Deputy Prime Minister bears this in mind in charting out the future course of action,'”
Karat, the key man of the Left party at that time, explicitly demanded Singh to “take the steps” which may include “amendment to the law referred to, so as to bring relief to these unfortunate families, living across India”.
But soon after the Lok Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, new CPI-M boss Sitaram Yechury termed it as against the Constitution. While speaking at Ernakulam, he said, “The CAB is totally against the tenets of our Constitution.”
On Wednesday, soon after the Bill was passed with 125 votes in its favour, Yechury took to Twitter to allege that the BJP is breathing life into 2-nation theory.
He said, “India was partitioned in 1947. Both, proponents of the Hindu and Muslim homeland, were two sides of the same pernicious, divisive, hateful and anti-Indian proposition. India rejected the two-nation theory. The BJP is trying to desperately breathe life into it via CAB.”
On December 19, the CPI-M along with other Left parties such as the CPI, Forward Block and the RSP will hold a nationwide protest against the controversial Bill.
But interestingly, the letter written by CPI-M’s former boss Karat, who demanded the Bill in the first place, is still is up on the website of ‘People’s Democracy’, the party’s mouthpiece.