Lok Sabha

December 9, 2019

Abhishek Banerjee speaks on The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Abhishek Banerjee speaks on The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019


Hon’ble Speaker Sir,

I rise today to speak on an issue and a bill which is fundamentally opposed to the idea of India, which is immoral, unethical and unconstitutional. 

Sir, let me remind the Home Minister, what he said an hour back. Griha Mantri ne bola ki yeh shantipurvak charcha honi chahiye, na hum aapko tokenge na aap humko tokenge. Paanch baje Home Minister ne yeh kaha, chhe baje inke party ke sadasya chilla rahein hain. Ek baat toh saabit hai ki BJP ek ghante mein apni chaal badalti hai. 

Sir, let me first tell you that this Bill has been brought to this House with a noxious motive of gaining political mileage by the current incumbents. If I am the first to  share with this August House what were the visions of the great Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

1a) Our Prime Minister, very often invokes Swami Vivekananda and his teachings, but fails in reality to practice his principles. Four years ago, while unveiling a bronze statue of the great Swami Ji in Malaysia, Prime Minister Modi said, “Swami Vivekananda is not just the name of a person, he personifies the thousands-years-old culture of India”.

126 saal pehle Swami ji while addressing the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago said: “We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true.” He also said, “ I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”

Sir, ya toh 126 saal pehle Swami Vivekananda ji sahi the ya toh aaj ke desh ki Girha Mantri sahi hain. 

Swami Ji would have been shell-shocked had he been here with us today to witness this Bill, which is fundamentally opposed to his idea of India, which is dividing India on the narrow lines of caste, community, creed, religion and race.

  1. b) This Government has used the iconic rimmed spectacles of Mahatma Gandhi in their Swachh Bharat campaign. Sir at a time when the nation is commemorating the 150th Birth Anniversary of the great Mahatma Gandhi, the Prime Minister is unveiling commemorative stamps and coins to honour him and his contributions look what Gandhiji had to say 94 years ago. 

Sir, he had said, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization”.

  1. c) The government is spending Rs 3000 crore of taxpayers’ money to build a 600 feet (182 m) tall Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat. But what about the ‘Unity’ that Sardar taught the world?

Sir, 73 years ago, the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Vallabhai Patel said ,“Caste, community, will rapidly disappear. We have to speedily forget all these things. Such boundaries hamper our growth.”

Six years ago, these are the same people who made the country ‘Run for Unity’, in the name of Sardar Patel. And these are again the same people, six years later   making the entire country beg for their ‘Identity’ on their knees. IT’S A SHAME!

  1. d) It would be most unfortunate Sir, if we, Swami Vivekananda’s followers and devotees, fail to uphold his philosophy. It would be disastrous if we ignore the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi . It would be a shame if we do not heed to the advice of , the Ironman of India Sardar Vallabhbhai

Sir, do we want an India that is ‘One Nation’?

Do we want an India, for ourselves and our children or our future generations that shares the vision of these three great minds?

Do we want an India that the founding fathers of our Constitution had created for us?

OR, do we want an India that is a loose collection of separate nations? Divided along the narrow lines of caste, creed, race and religion?

The answer, Hon’ble Speaker, is very obvious. The fact that we are even debating the fundamental idea of India today here in this House is causing me sheer sadness mixed with deep anguish, pain and concern.

We all have an idea of an India in our minds and everyone sitting over here, be it the incumbent or sitting in the Opposition. We all have an idea of India in our heads and minds and hearts. But your idea of India is different and our idea of India is different.

Our India dwells in the optimism of our hearts. Your India lurks in the skepticism of your mind.

Our India believes in love, peace and harmony, your India is lost in mob lynching and agony.

Our India smiles, hopes, cries and desperately waits for Development. Your India is lost in the viciousness of Destruction.

Our idea of India is Inclusive. Your idea of India is… Divisive.

Sir, aaj jab Bill ko introduce kiya ja raha tha, Griha Mantri mahadoy, Pakistan ki Constitution ki baat kar rahe the, Bangladesh ki Constitution ke baat kar rahe the.

But Sir, what about the Constitution that is placed here. Sir, what about the Constitution that every Member of this August House has sworn to protect and preserve

2a) Let me raise three fundamental questions:

One) Can you classify ‘migrants’ on the basis of their ‘religious identity’?

Two) Can you favour ‘migrants’ on the basis of the country they come from?

Three) Can you put genuine Indian citizens in distress and attempt to snatch away their citizenship on dubious grounds?

  1. b) The answers to these questions are easy to find.

One) Read the debates which were put forth in the Constituent Assembly

Two) Ponder over key words in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution  

Three) Understand, in letter and spirit, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution

3) Sir, let’s start with the Constituent Assembly, where the idea of Indian citizenship was debated at length. Listen to what Pandit Nehru said.

  1. a) He said, “You cannot decide whom you like and whom you dislike. You have to lay down certain principles…all these rules naturally apply to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs or Christians or anybody else”.

b)The Preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.

4) Now let me re-read Article 14 of the Constitution, which every member of the House is referring to. “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.

It is clear the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 very clearly violates the Constitution of India. It is immoral (as I said) and unconstitutional. 

Here are more reasons why:

  1. a) After Article 14, Sir, let us look at Articles 5 to 11. These lay down the basis as to WHO can be a citizen of India.
  2. b) Sir, even though the Constitution was framed after the freedom struggle and the Partition – a period characterized by great physical, psychological and emotional upheavals – NONE of its provisions make ‘religious identity’ or ‘country of origin’, grounds for restricting Indian citizenship.

That is the greatness of our precious Indian Constitution, Sir. That is why the great poet Dwijendra Lal Roy said, “এমন দেশটি কোথাও খুঁজে পাবে নাকো তুমি, সকল দেশের রানী সে যে-আমার জন্মভূমি।”

5)Sir, any discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Bill cannot be had without understanding it in the context of the NRC. And any attempt by this Government to make us believe that the NRC is different and the CAB is different is a completely unconvincing argument. NRC was a trap. CAB, which has been introduced today and considered for passing, is even a bigger trap.

Sir, main puchna chahta hoon. Yahaan pe, Hindu Muslim ki baat ho raha hai. Jab aap ki tabiyat kharab hoti hain tab aap doctor ke pass jaate ho, aap kya puchte ho ke Hindu hain ya Muslim hain? Aap sabzi mandi mein sabzi kharidne jate ho, jo bechta hai usse kya aap puchte ho ke woh Hindu hain ya Muslim hain? Aap ambulence bulate ho puchte ho ki Hindu hain ya Muslim hain? Arre sune ka patience rakhiye. Yahaan pe jo log baithe huye hain, aapke mohtaj nahin hain. Hum log bhi chun ke aaye hain. And 65% of the country have voted for the opposition. And you should rightly know that the House belongs to the Opposition. 

Sir, if persecution and genuine concern is the real criteria, then anyone irrespective of religion should be considered for citizenship. How can citizenship be determined on the basis of religion, Sir? And if your are considerate towards the majority community here, then why only three countries? We never parted with Afghanistan. Mantri ji bataye ke hum border state karte hain 106 km lamba, theek hai. But aur desh bhi hain, Sri Lanka hain, Mayanmar hain and Mayanmar was a part of British India. Why didn’t you consider them if you are so concerned and bothered about the majority and everyone here? Sir, that is why I am saying it is a trap. NRC ek lollipop tha aur yeh ek aur bara lollipop hain. Desh ki janta ke liye aur ek bara jumla hain.

Aur Sir, main agar aap se puchhunga ke wahaan pe bhi toh Tamil suffer kar rahe hai jaise mere pehle jo vakta bol rahe the unho ne bataya, wahan ki jo minorities hain unke liye toh aap soch hi nahi rahe ho. They are also being persecuted. They are also suffering. Why don’t you consider them. It is simple because thinking for them and genuine Indian citizens will not serve your political hunger. It only goes to prove how outrageous, how noxious your intent is. How moraly noxious your intent is.     

Now, coming to the actual process of NRC. It is a botched up exercise. It is a failure. And there is no doubt in that.

You messed up doing NRC in one State, and now you want to implement NRC in 27 other States and 9 other Union Territories.

You are asking Indian citizens for so many identification cards. This card, that card…documents before 1971, land documents, this certificate, that certificate…

Yahaan pe Sadan mein jitne log baithe huye hain, Opposition ko chorke aapke Ruling satta mein, sabke paas document hoga 1971 ke pehle ka? And if I am to ask you about the real certificates and documents, educational or otherwise, many of the ministers in the Cabinet will be left embarrassed. So I am not even going into that. 

How big a disaster was the first NRC which was implemented? And scrapped. And the big numbers are in the public domain. Luka chhupi nahin hain. Sabke liye dekhne ke liye hai. 

Sir, allow me to give you five real stories. And the disaster that NRC was. I have already documented a list of people who have lost their lives and it’s tabled already. Because of the ordeal of NRC and panic. They have been caused because of NRC:

  1. a) 55 year-old daily labourer Kamal Ghosh. He was from Purba Bardhaman.He wasn’t sleeping at night. He was not eating anything in the day. He once went to the local BDO office to get his digital ration card when he fell unconscious on the floor and lost his life. Who is responsible for his death, Sir? I demand an answer from the Hon’ble Minister.
  2. b) In Dhupguri, 39 year-old van driver Shyamal Roy committed suicide after he lost his voter card. His family members say he was in a state of panic after losing it, fearing what would happen if NRC was implemented. Who killed him Sir, who is responsible for his death Sir?
  3. c) In South Dinajpur, Mantu Sarkar, 52, died after falling ill in the same way to acquire a digitized ration card. Who is responsible for his death Sir?

.d) In my constituency Diamond Harbour, 43 year-old Kala Chand Middey a resident of Falta, hanged himself in a bamboo clamp because of the ordeal of NRC. Who is responsible for his death Sir?

  1. e) We also know, five Bengali Hindus were brutally killed, shot dead in November, 2018 in Tinsukia. These are real people who died due to the ill-thought out, half-baked process that is NRC. Why this discrimination and hatred towards Bengal, Sir, I want to ask?

 6) Now that we have established how this Bill is ‘antii-constitutional’, anti-Indian citizen’ allow me to inform this august House, through you, how this Bill is against the whole Hindu community.

Hon’ble Speaker Sir, as a proud Indian and a proud Bengali Hindu, I live by the tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, Pradhan Mantri bhi bahut baar bolte hain. Hum kya is pe charcha karte hain sahi se execute karte hain ground level pe? Jo sadiyo se aaye huye hain, 

They speak the same language, 

They share the same culture,

They cherish the same traditions,

And no one can tear them apart.

 7)Peace. Harmony. Diversity.

These are the core values of our country.  Now these values have been pitted against animosity, suspicion and divisiveness. 

This proposed Act rips apart the soul of Bengal.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is anti-Indian. It is anti-Bengali also. No one here needs reminding about the legacy of Bengal. Bengal has always reacted and strongly opposed any attempt at divisive and inhuman politics. Bengal knows the pain of Partition. Bengal has always rejected policies fundamentally based on hate.

We will not let any genuine Indian suffer

We will not let any Bengali suffer

8) Now, If I am to come to the point that what Bengal has given India

Who gave us the Indian National Army? The Azad Hind Fauj?

Who gave us the Planning Commission?

Who gave us the most number of Nobel laureates?

Who showed the light during the freedom movement?

Who gave India its National Song and National Anthem?

If I am to ask you, Sir.

 9) Look closely at the numbers of this Government’s failed NRC experiment, the prelude to the Citizenship Amendment Bill. From the very beginning, All India Trinamool Congress had warned you that the results of NRC, preceding the CAB, would be disastrous. You didn’t heed our warning. You didn’t take our advice. Now look where you have ended up.

Out of the 19 lakh people excluded from NRC, 11 lakh are Bengali Hindus (that’s almost 60%), 4 lakh are Hindus from other states (Bihar, UP, Odisha and Rajasthan), 1 lakh are Gorkhas and 3 lakh plus are Bengali Muslims. Most importantly, each one of them is an Indian citizen.

Sir, the situation in the detention camps is even worse, it is a painful story. Estimates reveal that 60-70% of those held in detention camps are all Bengali Hindus.

Sir, in our State of West Bengal, you will be happy to know refugees have all been given legal rights. We have already regularized all refugee colonies, with over 70,000 people, which were on State Government land. We didn’t discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion and race.

Sir, if I am to mention you about Bengali Hindu Matua community. The Matuas have been taken care of. Who took care of Boroma in the last 30 years? We have given her the highest Bengal Civilian Award. Sir, we have created Matua Development Board, Namoh Shudra Development Board. They have been living here and waited here for decades, they have chosen MPs, Government, Prime Ministers and they are all proud Indian Citizens.

Sir, you come from Bengal and talk about Shonar Bangla. But when the Bengal Assembly unanimously passes a Bill to change our State’s name to Bangla, you refuse to act on it. You do not understand the sentiments of 10 crore Bengalis.

You announced Demonetisation 3 years back. But let me tell you very bluntly, you can demonetise 500 rupee notes. You can even demonetise 1000 rupee notes… Tomorrow you can demonetise 2000 rupee notes, but don’t think you can not demonetise the soul of this country, you can not demonetise the people of Bengal, you can not demonetise the soul of a Bengali.

Sir, if demonetisation has set the Nation to the ICU. CAB will end up putting it on the ventilator.

10) In April this year, the Prime Minister promised:

And I quote him “I want to assure all Gorkha brothers and sisters from this stage that none of you will be inconvenienced because of the NRC”

That was the promise.

Only the poor suffered from demonetisation. Over 120 people died.

I challenge the Government, tell me how many millionaires were in the queue?

The poor is becoming poorer and rich is becoming richer. And time and again the government has proved this has been a trademark of this government.

I challenge this Government, tell us how many millionaires were among the 19 lakh not included in the NRC?

Not one, Not a single one…  It is only the poor who will suffer. Again.

Sir, I would just say that yahaan pe 2005 mein kiya gaya Mamata Ji ka baktavya ko lekar bohut baat ho rahi hain. And senior members of the House are trying to mislead. I challenge them to go and take the verbatim records out from 2005. That was totally against duplicacy of voter ID card, it was not against this. 

Hon’ble Minister, a lot of people from the ruling party are saying that India is not a dharamshala. Sir, no one says that India is a dharamshala and no one wants India to become a dharamshala. But let me remind each and everyone of them that a dharamshala cannot say, ‘I am only allowing this religion, I am not allowing another religion’. They should keep that in mind. 

It is appalling, heartbreaking, I am crest-fallen. This is totally disappointing, Sir. I would urge the government that don’t discriminate citizenship on the basis of religion. If you have the guts include everyone. Sir, stop attempting to disrupt the unity and diversity of India.

Sir, আমরা বিশ্বাস করি সর্বধর্ম সমন্বয়ের কথা। এটা সেই দেশ যেখানে রবীন্দ্রনাথ বলেছিলেন ‘ধর্মের বেশে মোহ যারে এসে ধরে. অন্ধ সে জন মারে আর শুধু মরে।’

বিদ্রোহী কবি কাজী নজরুল ইসলাম বলেছিলেন, ‘কোরান-পুরাণ-বেদ-বেদান্ত-বাইবেল-ত্রিপিটক- জেন্দাবেস্তা-গ্রন্থসাহেব প’ড়ে যাও, য্ত সব’

They would have been heartbroken had they been here today to witness this debate, Sir. But come what may, let me reassure this Nation from this August House, through you Sir, we will fight till the last drop of our blood, but we will not allow NRC in Bengal. NRC hobena, hobena, hobena.

Jai Hind! Vande Mataram! Joy Bangla!