Various politicians, civil-rights activists and students from across the country have criticised the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for introducing the “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional” Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. Many of them believed that the act, which was enacted on 12 December, is a precursor to an all-India National Register of Citizens, and together, the policies would raise doubts over the citizenship of Indian Muslims.
Among the critics was Yashwant Sinha, a former union finance minister under the BJP government. “The most suitable reply of the people of India to CAA and NRC should be not to cooperate with the govt and refuse to share any personal or family information with the authorities. Let them declare all of us as non-citizens,” Sinha tweeted, a couple of days after the enactment of the law.
But when news of countrywide protests and police crackdowns started to gain traction, Sinha singled out Muslim protestors in a tweet that appeared to ignore the violence inflicted on members of the community by the police. He wrote, “When secular India is fighting to protect secular values in the country why is the Muslim population taking to violence. In doing so, it is playing into the hands of those who want to polarise society on communal lines. It should stop forthwith.”
In an interview with Abhimanyu Chandra, a PhD student at the University of Chicago, Sinha discussed his statements, the government’s decision to introduce the CAA when the Indian economy is at a low and recent political developments in the country.
Abhimanyu Chandra: You said in a tweet that the best thing that Indians can do is not give their documents for NRC and CAA. Will you be doing that yourself?
Yashwant Sinha: If anyone came to my doorstep and said, “Please prove that you are an Indian citizen,” I will not show them anything. Anything. I will merely tell them, “I am an Indian, jo karna hai kar lo” [Do whatever you want]. An atmosphere is building up and most people might take this course of action.