Monday, 30th October 2017

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Uddhav Thackeray stings Congress on Citizenship Amendment Act

This was the Sena leader's first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as chief minister

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi
  • Published 22.02.20, 3:42 AM
  • Updated 22.02.20, 3:42 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Uddhav in New Delhi on Friday Picture by Prem Singh

Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said those who have “instigated” protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act need to introspect as there is no plan to bring a nationwide National Register of Citizens and nobody’s citizenship is being snatched.

Uddhav made the assertion soon after his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as chief minister. Sources said the CAA-NRC was discussed at the meeting.

“There is no need to fear the CAA; this can’t snatch anybody’s citizenship. The Prime Minister has clarified that the NRC is not coming. If there are unwanted questions in the NPR, there will be problems,” he said.

There is no substantive change in Uddhav’s stand on the citizenship issue as he had expressed similar views a few days ago, declaring that the NRC would not be allowed and that there was nothing to fear about the CAA.

However, he went a step further on Friday by putting the onus of ending the protests on the “instigators” instead of the government. This position is bound to disappoint allies Congress and the NCP.

Activists and intelligentsia across the country who are opposing the CAA-NPR-NRC are also likely to be disappointed.

Unlike Uddhav, they have blamed the Modi government for the stalemate and accused it of violent attempts to crush the protests.

Asked about the agitations across the country, Uddhav said: “Jin logon ne bhadkaya hai, unko samjhne ki aawashyakta hai (Those who have instigated need to understand).”

Uddhav has taken a different position on the National Population Register, too. He has chosen to see the NPR in the context of the general census rather than as a precursor to the NRC, even as he has promised to review his stand if undesirable and unnecessary information is sought in the questionnaire.

To a question on who the instigators were, he said: “I don’t live in Delhi. You live in Delhi, you find out who is instigating.”

The protests are leaderless and have been spontaneous, driven largely by students.

Uddhav and his son Aditya met Congress president Sonia Gandhi after meeting Modi. The Sena leaders didn’t speak to the media after the meeting with Sonia.

The top Congress leadership has unambiguously extended support to the protests and hailed the role of students and activists who have risen to save the Constitution.

The party high command has organised a few programmes to oppose the CAA-NPR-NRC, and Congress chief ministers have themselves participated in protest rallies and got resolutions passed in Assemblies asking the Centre to withdraw the contentious legislation.

The Shiv Sena’s position on this is indisputably antithetical to allies Congress and NCP, with which it formed a government last year after breaking up with the BJP.

Uddhav agrees there are differences in the perspectives of the Congress-NCP and the Sena. But he asserts that he has understood the reality well. Although NCP chief Sharad Pawar said a few days ago that he would talk to Uddhav and try to convince him on key issues, it appears that the Sena chief is keen on preserving his party’s distinct identity without getting into any conflict with its allies.

Uddhav has asserted on several occasions that the Sena’s faith in Hindutva is intact.

Congress leaders aren’t too happy with some of these positions but they know the pitfalls of working with an ideologically incompatible party. They don’t see any immediate threat to the government in Maharashtra but privately argue that the Sena obviously does not want to burn its bridges with the BJP.

Uddhav also met home minister Amit Shah and BJP veteran L.K. Advani before leaving for Mumbai.