The protests against the Narendra Modi government’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continue with the sit-in at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh in its second month now. States like Kerala, West Bengal and Rajasthan have passed Assembly resolutions against the new citizenship law.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Union ministers have gone on an overdrive to discredit the protesters and have blamed the Opposition for “spreading lies” about the law. However, some party leaders are now accepting that they did not anticipate the anger and protests.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Bihar deputy chief minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said “did not anticipate such protests” against the CAA.
“Maybe we were not able to convince people. Also, Opposition parties started working overtime to spread lies. But we have seen bigger protests against triple talaq and it finally came through. People are slowly realising the truth about CAA,” he added.
Some party members had told Reuters in December 2019 that the Modi government did not anticipate such massive protests and BJP leaders were taken aback by the backlash. Party leaders said they had been prepared for some anger from Muslims, but not the widespread protests, according to Reuters.
“I really did not see the protests coming ... not just me, other BJP lawmakers were also unable to predict this kind of anger,” BJP leader Sanjeev Balyan had told Reuters.
BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta told Hindu BusinessLine that the communication about the legislation had been imperfect. “The government has to take much more onus in communicating true facts, and they have not been very proactive in the entire thing.”
The BJP has been unable to convince some members of its own party about the CAA. Forty-eight members of the BJP’s minority cell in Bhopal quit the party this month over the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“Have you ever seen a government passing a law in Parliament, and then going from door to door seeking support for it?” Adil Khan, who quit the BJP as its Bhopal district minority cell vice-president, told The Hindu. “This shows the party is aware it has committed a wrong,” he added.
Last week, 76 Muslim BJP workers, including office-bearers of its minority cells quit the party. The BJP workers from Indore, Dewas and Khargone districts of Madhya Pradesh also cited the CAA and the NRC as the reason for leaving the party.