29/01/2020 2:07 PM IST

Anti-CAA Voices Rising Within BJP As Nationwide Protests Continue

Despite Amit Shah's attempts to enforce strict discipline, a few BJP leaders like Narayan Tripathi and Chandra Kumar Bose have spoken against the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act.

Narayan Tripathi/Facebook
BJP MLA from Maihar Narayan Tripathi in a file photo.

While the upper echelons of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) show no sign of backing down from its stand on the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), there have been some voices against it within the party. On Tuesday, Narayan Tripathi, BJP MLA from Maihar in Madhya Pradesh, became the latest to go against the party line, saying that the push for CAA had created civil war-like situations in the state. 

Hindustan Times quoted Tripathi as saying, “There is civil war-like situation in every street, which is fatal for our country. We cannot imagine development in civil war-like situation. I opposed it (CAA) when I became aware of such a situation. Not only in my constituency Maihar, but similar situation prevails in other places. 

Widespread protests have taken place across India since the CAA became a law on December 11. The protests have constantly questioned the constitutionality of the law which promises citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh if they came to India before December 31, 2014, leaving out Muslims.

“We should either run the country according to the Constitution or the BJP should come up with one of its own and tear and throw away B.R. Ambedkar’s Constitution which says all the people, irrespective of religion, will live together. The country cannot be divided on the basis of religion,” Tripathi said. 

HuffPost India has reached out to Tripathi and will update this article if he responds. 

Tripathi isn’t the first BJP leader to speak out about the problems with the CAA and how the Narendra Modi government is dealing with the protests. 

Chandra Kumar Bose, the nephew of Subhash Chandra Bose and vice-president of BJP’s West Bengal unit, has also been questioning why Muslims have been excluded. 

Speaking to HuffPost India over the phone on Wednesday, Bose reiterated his point. “The law speaks of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists but there is no mention of the minority Muslims. They are very much a part of our country. If it’s an inclusive law, why mention any religion at all? Either you remove religion or you need to be transparent.” 

Bose, however, was quick to add that he does support the CAA.

But the CAA in its current form, he said, was only providing fodder to the opposition. 

“India is definitely a secular, inclusive state, we cannot really go against the Constitution of India. Either you change the Constitution or follow it to the letter.
I support the CAA in principle, but my suggestion was to  please make these modifications.”

Bose said the BJP must listen to the people and that the “Hindu-Muslim discrimination must stop”.  

The impression people are getting that this is for polarisation. You cannot polarise people for votes. It is a big danger

“We should do what the people would like us to do. The CAA cannot be a priority, it should be done, yes, but it cannot be a priority. There is a law... there is a 12-year naturalisation process. The impression people are getting that this is for polarisation. You cannot polarise people for votes. It is a big danger,” he said. 

Bose has spoken against the BJP’s actions earlier as well.

With the Delhi election around the corner, BJP leaders have been upping the ante on trying to polarise voters on the CAA issue, especially around the Shaheen Bagh protests in the city. While Union minister Anurag Thakur led incendiary chants during a rally, BJP MP Parvesh Verma tried to whip up hate and fear against the protesters. 

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There have been other cautious statements from within the party. Swapan Dasgupta, Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, said earlier this month that the party erred in underestimating the opposition to the law. “The government has to take much more onus in communicating true facts, and they have not been very proactive in the entire thing. As a result, there is a lot of scare-mongering, particularly in West Bengal. There are questions which are not very pertinent or relevant,” Dasgupta had told The Hindu BusinessLine

In West Bengal, while the CAA has been vehemently opposed by Mamata Banerjee, even BJP chief Dilip Ghosh had said there would be no NRC in the state before backtracking on his statement. 

Seventy-six Muslim BJP workers quit last week over the CAA in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, Dewas and Khargone districts.

The Indian Express quoted Rajik Qureshi Farshiwala as saying, “Only we know how difficult it is for us to get our community members to vote for the BJP and we do everything to persuade them, but if the BJP keeps talking about contentious issues like these, it will become more and more difficult for us.”

This is the second wave of such resignations amid continuous and massive protests across the country against the CAA. Earlier this month, 48 BJP minority cell workers in Bhopal quit over the CAA and the NRC. 

The Hindu had reported that the members, including the state media in-charge, spokesperson and district ministers, left the party because senior BJP leaders ignored their complaints about offensive remarks made against Muslims. 

In December, the BJP in Maharashtra had seen more than 100 Muslim members of its Latur unit resigning. 

District chief Afzal Khan  and former mayor Akhtar Shaikh released a statement that Livemint quoted as saying, “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) are against the Constitution and against the Muslims. There’s injustice happening to our community. It’s irrational and incomprehensible for us to be with a party enabling this injustice.”