'NDA Allies Not Consulted, No Respect Given': Akali Dal Leader Slams BJP for Exclusion of Muslims in CAA
Naresh Gujral clarified that even though the SAD voted for the CAA in the Parliament, party chief Sukhbir Badal had said that Muslims must be included in the Citizenship Act.
File photo of SAD leader Naresh Gujral.
New Delhi: Fissures in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have begun to surface after the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 in the Parliament as allies open up about their dissatisfaction with the Union government. Recently, NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal urged the Modi government to make the “necessary amends” in the Act to include Muslims in its ambit.
SAD leader Naresh Gujral, in an interview with NDTV on Tuesday, said that the BJP must learn from late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee how to respect the allies and urged the government to reconsider the changes proposed by the NDA supporters. “Otherwise we may rethink our support if amends were not made,” he said.
The SAD supports the BJP-led NDA government at the centre and has one member in the Union Cabinet.
Urging the government to include Muslims in the list of refugees in the newly amended Citizenship Act, Gujral warned the BJP that his party was "against the NRC" and are thus unhappy with the way the allies are being treated in the NDA.
Gujral referred to the Vajpayee era of leadership when the coalition constituted 20 parties. “I've said it time and again, we need that Vajpayee touch. Vajpayee, if you recall, ran a coalition of almost 20 parties. Yet everybody remained happy because everybody was given respect. They were treated with equality. Vajpayee’s doors were always open and there was consultation,” a disenchanted Gujral said.
Besides, referring to key legislations like the Citizenship Act, the SAD leader criticised the BJP-led NDA for not encouraging debates over bills and said that discussion and consultations with allies “unfortunately do not take place”. “This is why bulk of NDA allies are unhappy," he said.
Meanwhile, he heaped praises on late former BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley, who died in August this year, for “learning the lessons” from Vajpayee. "As long as he was alive, I would say channels always remained open as he was always our go-to person. Unfortunately, after his demise, these channels are really not working," he added.
Gujral, however, said that whether the Shiromani Akali Dal would pull out from NDA depends on "what kinds of stances the government takes".
“As I've said, I've talked to many other allies and nobody is really happy. Nobody is happy with the fact meetings don't happen from time to time and I think some amends needs to be made," he said with regard to withdrawing support from the Union government.
Gujral clarified that even though the SAD voted for the CAA in the Parliament, party chief Sukhbir Badal had said that Muslims must be included. “For us, it was a dilemma because 60,000 to 70,000 Sikhs persecuted by Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan have been in India for 10-12 years without citizenship," Gujral told NDTV, adding that the Akali Dal represents Sikhs, but party believes in tolerance.
The Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab categorically stated that the SAD opposes the nationwide implementation of the NRC over creation of "insecurity in minds of minority communities."
"We hope BJP reconsiders NRC and shelves the citizenship law. We cannot have violence in the country and people getting killed. Need to put an end to this," he said.
India witnessed massive spontaneous protests across the country, including in universities, against the amended Citizenship Act, which seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
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