Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi on Tuesday said India must give Rohingya Muslims, who are fleeing violence in Myanmar, asylum after vetting them. He shared his views in an editorial for Hindi daily Navbharat Times.

The Sultanpur MP’s opinion is in contrast to that of his government. The Centre has been advocating to identify and deport nearly 40,000 Rohingya refugees in the country, claiming that they pose a threat to national security.

“My recent piece focused primarily on defining India’s asylum policy, with clear demarcations on how we would accept refugees,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter. “As for the Rohingyas, I’ve called for empathy, leading potentially to asylum, while vetting each applicant for national security concerns.”

Union minister Hansraj Ahir rebuked Gandhi for his views and said that those who valued national interest should not make such statements, PTI reported.

In recent months, Gandhi has challenged many of his party’s decisions openly. In August, he questioned the right of parliamentarians to raise their own salaries. In March, he moved a private member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha that sought to recall lawmakers for non-performance.

The Centre’s views on Rohingyas

On September 18, the central government had told the Supreme Court that it had inputs from security agencies that show that Rohingya Muslim refugees in India have links with terror groups in Pakistan. The government told the top court that the continued illegal immigration of Rohingyas to India has “serious national security ramifications and threats”. The Supreme Court is set to take up the matter again on October 3.

In August, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had said the government wanted to deport the Rohingya refugees as they were illegal immigrants. The UN has criticised the decision, which was made even as the Rohingya crisis worsened in Myanmar.