Citizenship soul of India, not imported vote banks: Jaitley

New Delhi: Amid the massive uproar by the Opposition on Assam’s NRC draft list, Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday asserted that sovereignty and citizenship are the soul of India and not imported vote banks.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley took a dig at the Congress saying it was increasingly taking a fringe position when it was the mainstream party on Indian politics.

He said, “Siding with the ‘Tukde Tukde’ gang was one such illustration. It is now compromising the sovereignty of India. Leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee must realise that India’s sovereignty is not a plaything.”
Recalling a quote that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in the Lok Sabha in 2005 against infiltration in the state, Jaitley accused the former for changing her stand on Bangladeshi infiltration.

“India’s sovereignty is paying a heavy price because of the quality of its political discourse. Though Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi took a particular position in 1972 and 1985 for the deletion and deportation of foreigners, Rahul Gandhi takes a contrarian position and his party turns turtle. Similarly, the BJP ally of 2005, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, took a particular position. As a federal front leader, she now talks to the contrary. Can India’s sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands?” he questioned.

“The result of this has been that in the 50 years between 1961 and 2011, the majority community in Assam has grown 2.4 times; the minority has grown 3.9 times. This has caused a major demographic impact,” Jaitley noted.
Laying down the difference between a citizen and a refugee, Jaitley further asserted, “There is a fundamental difference between a citizen and a refugee. Citizenship is regulated by the Constitution. Those who are compelled on account of certain circumstances to leave their country and take refuge in another country for fear of persecution are refugees. The receiving nation can, on humanitarian ground, be considerate to these refugees in terms of providing them with the basics of life. Refugees are not conferred citizenship. The refugees don’t become a voter.”

He added that while pre-1971 migrants might have moved for reasons of persecution, the reason did not apply to post 1971 migrants who have illegally entered India.

Jaitley noted, “There is a third category who are neither citizens nor refugees, who come for reasons of economic opportunities. These are illegal migrants. Their entry is a silent invasion in the country to which they move.”
“A desperate argument has been given that this is a human rights cause. A refugee on account of persecution may have a humanitarian consideration. Illegal migration does not have it. There is no fundamental right to any person to do so,” he further said.

Noting that territory and citizens are the two most important aspects of a sovereign state, Jaitley underlined that the principal duty of any government was to defend the borders of the country, prevent any trespass and make the life of its citizens safe and secure.

Throwing light on the sovereign challenges the country faced, Jaitley said, “Independent India has faced a major challenge to protect its sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir. At the time of Independence and partition of India, Assam was also a sore issue for Pakistan. They resented the fact that like Kashmir, Assam became a part of Independent India.”

The draft list, which was released on July 30, left out nearly 40 lakh people in Assam, incorporating names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants. Since then, the Opposition has been at loggerheads with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre over the issue.

The first draft was published on December 31, 2017, and names of 1.9 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.

The NRC draft features the names, addresses and photographs of all Indian citizens, who have been residing in the northeastern state before March 25, 1971. (ANI)