New Delhi, February 9: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said that we (the Indian society) have reached a point where the debate on secularism has shifted to a debate on who is a citizen of India. The senior Congress leader and former finance minister was speaking at a function organized by SBF India on Saturday.
Chidambaram’s comments follow an intense ideological debate around the ideas of secularism, nationalism, and democracy taking place in the backdrop of the government’s move to amend the Citizenship Act and the fears that it combined with a nationwide National Register of Citizens could be used to discriminate against the Muslims.
Resistance to the legislation in some pockets has sometimes been described as anti-national, mostly by the leaders of the ruling party, the BJP.
“We have had debates on secularism in the last 20, 30, 40 years, but we have reached a point where the debate on secularism has shifted to a debate on who is the citizen of India. Somehow, these two issues have been conflated, if you are secular today, there are people who will call you anti-national,” Chidambaram said.
A few BJP leaders including UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and union minister Anurag Thakur were pulled up by the election commission for their speeches with potential to disturb the communal harmony. The BJP leaders made references to anti-CAA protestors, especially in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as “anti-national” and alleged that those supporting the protestors were speaking the language of Pakistan.
“If you are secular today, they will call you, you are speaking the language of Pakistan, if you are secular, your patriotism is in question, and many of these people will also have their citizenship questioned in the course of time; that is the point of danger at which we have seemed to have arrived in the last few years,” Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram is one of the fiercest critiques of the current Narendra Modi led BJP government at the centre. (Courtesy: HT)