Mumbai: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday took a scathing jibe at Union Home Minister Amit Shah for his assertion that the Congress had divided India on religious lines during the Partition of 1947.
“Amit Shah did not pay attention during history class; it was the Hindu Mahasabha which backed the two-nation theory,” Tharoor said at the Network18’s Lokmat Conclave in Mumbai.
“The Citizenship Amendment Bill is an assault on the Constitution. We must create a free India for everyone…we cannot divide the nation on religion lines,” he added.
Tharoor’s remarks came a day after Shah, while pitching for the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Lok Sabha, claimed that the Citizenship Bill would not have been needed had the Congress not allowed partition on basis of religion.
“Why do we need this Bill today? After Independence, if Congress had not partitioned the country on the basis of religion, today we would have not needed this Bill. Congress did partition on the basis of religion,” Shah stated as Congress members alleged that the proposed law was against Muslims and the basic principle of equality guaranteed under the Constitution.
Opposition politicians inside Parliament, and protesters in several Indian cities, said the bill discriminated against Muslims and violated India's secular constitution.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend a six-decade-old law to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens.
Opposing the tabling of the bill, Tharoor had earlier said, "Those who believe religion should determine nationhood, that was the idea of Pakistan. The bill endorses the idea of religious discrimination by allowing individuals of only six religious identities to acquire citizenship while excluding the individuals belonging to other religious identities.”
But Shah and Prime Minister Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had included the CAB as part of its manifesto for the Lok Sabha election, insist that it is necessary and that it has the mandate to make this the law.
"In these three countries, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, followers of these six religions have been tormented," Shah said, before the bill was tabled after a vote.