‘Tukde-tukde’ gang warned
Amit Shah on Thursday blamed the “tukde-tukde gang led by the Congress” for the violence during the citizenship protests in Delhi and said they should be “punished”, indicating the government would not soften its line despite the nationwide protests.
“The tukde-tukde gang led by the Congress is responsible for the violence in Delhi. The time has come to punish them. The people of Delhi should punish them,” the home minister and BJP president said, choosing a government event to launch his party’s campaign for the upcoming Delhi polls.
“Tukde-tukde” implies breaking or cutting something into small fragments. The Sangh parivar stigmatises liberals and Leftists as the “tukde-tukde gang”, drawing on an allegation that JNU students had chanted slogans about dividing India into fragments at a campus protest in February 2016 that led to a sedition case against several students.
Shah opened his speech, at the foundation-stone ceremony for a development programme for east Delhi, by chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai”. He asked the crowd, mostly party cadres, to raise their fists and take the pledge to ensure victory in the Delhi polls, due early next year.
His manner was vastly different from Tuesday’s, when he had appeared on television to appeal for peace, claiming there was no question of the government being “arrogant” or unwilling to “climb down”.
Shah had also claimed there was no link between the impending National Population Register update and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens exercise.
But on Thursday, Shah was his usual assertive self. His hard-line comments came at a time when at least three key allies — the Janata Dal United, Akali Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party — have expressed reservations about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC and sought a meeting.
“There’s no question of any climb-down on these issues,” a senior BJP leader said.
The BJP has launched a mass contact programme to counter the Opposition campaign against the citizenship act and register.
Party working president J.P. Nadda held a meeting on Thursday to review the 10-day “jan jagran” (mass awakening) programme launched to defend the citizenship amendment and asked party leaders and ministers to intensify their efforts towards this.
Rallies and meetings in support of the amendment are being held by other parivar organisations too.
Earlier, faced with widespread protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the Opposition of misleading the people and claimed his government had never discussed the NRC, but did not rule the exercise out. Shah has, however, repeatedly insisted there would be a nationwide NRC.
The government is anyway poised to start a National Population Register update that is being seen by many as a way of bringing the NRC in through the backdoor.
Unlike the UPA-conducted NPR, which was merely a record of who lived where, the current version is said to include questions that appear aimed at a preliminary estimation of citizenship, such as the time and place of one’s parents’ birth.
Shah on Thursday accused the Opposition of spreading “vranti” (disinformation) and alleged its leaders had not said anything against the citizenship bill in Parliament.
“There was a debate in Parliament; nobody was ready to say anything. But after coming out they started spreading disinformation,” he said.
Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal was present at the event Shah addressed.