Text to Speech
There can be little doubt that prime minister Narendra Modi glossed over vital facts in his Ramlila Maidan speech on Sunday. Apart from his statement on there being no detention centres (for the National Register of Citizens, NRC) in the country being clearly incorrect, he chose not to recall his home minister’s repeated statements on it when he told the crowds that he didn’t know where all the talk of an impending NRC process came from since there was no Bill nor any proposal on this that had even been cleared by the Union Cabinet. On more than one occasion, home minister Amit Shah has been seen, on video, as saying that once the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is passed and Hindus/Sikhs/Christians/Buddhists/Jain refugees are made citizens, the NRC will be used to weed out illegal immigrants; the BJP’s twitter handlers even deleted a tweet from its official handle that had the home minister talking of NRC. And, though a combative prime minister continued to blame the Congress—and ‘urban Naxals’—for spreading rumours about what an NRC would do to local Muslims, an important takeaway was that he was trying to distance his party and government from the process.
And, he didn’t repeat his statement, made during the Jharkhand campaigning, of how one could identify who was creating trouble by just looking at their clothes; on Sunday, he applauded the anti-CAA protestors who were holding the national flag. The prime minister, though, probably struck a chord when he sought to convert the issue from a Hindu-Muslim one into one of the poor vs the non-poor; did we ask you what your religion was, he thundered, when we built 1.5 crore houses for the poor, or when 5 crore poor were covered under Ayushman Bharat and 70 lakh were given free treatment … And why, he asked, would I regularise the homes of 40 lakh homeless Delhiites if I had to, at the same time, take away your rights?