New Delhi: Responding to union home minister Amit Shah’s assertion that the Congress had divided India on religious lines during the Partition of 1947, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said the two-nation theory had been first propounded by Hindutva ideologue and Sangh icon VD Savarkar.
“Today, the home minister said that Congress is responsible for partition on basis of religion. I want to make it clear that the foundation for two nation theory was laid in 1935 in Ahmedabad by Savarkar in a Hindu Mahasabha session, and not (by the) Congress,” he said in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which for the first time creates a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion.
Tewari’s remark came in response to Shah’s swipe at the Congress when he tabled the Bill in the Lok Sabha as he claimed that the Citizenship Bill would not have been needed had the Congress not allowed partition on basis of religion.
“It was the Congress that divided the country on religious lines, not us," 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.
Earlier, Congress member Shashi Tharoor had 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," Tharoor said, opposing the tabling of the bill.
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.