The Akali Dal on Wednesday claimed “a bulk” of the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance were unhappy with the way they had been treated, and said it could rethink its support for the saffron party if amends were not made. Naresh Gujral, one of the party’s members in the Rajya Sabha, made the comments in an interview to NDTV on Tuesday night.
Gujral said the Akali Dal was “against the NRC”, or the National Register of Citizens, and wants Muslims to be included in the list of refugees granted citizenship under the amended citizenship law. “We voted for CAA but Mr Badal [party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal] has said that Muslims must be included,” the MP added. “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 said the Akali Dal represents Sikhs but also believes in tolerance. “We had to vote but Mr Badal made it clear that we want Muslims to be included,” he reiterated. The parliamentarian said his party was opposed to the proposed National Register of Citizens because “it creates insecurity in minds of minority communities”. He added: “We cannot have violence in the country and people getting killed. Need to put an end to this.” At least 24 people have been killed across India during protests against the citizenship law.
Gujral said a bulk of NDA allies were unhappy because they are not consulted on key pieces of legislation. “I’ve said it time and again... we need that Vajpayee touch,” he added. “Vajpayee ji, if you recall, ran a coalition with almost 20 parties. Yet everybody remained happy because everybody was given respect...they were treated with equality. Vajpayee ji’s doors were always open... there was consultation.”
Gujral’s comments came days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose Janata Dal (United) is an ally of the BJP, hinted that the National Register of Citizens may not be implemented in the state.
The Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress Party, which are not BJP allies but have supported many laws in Parliament, including the Citizenship Act, have also said they will not permit an NRC their states. Former BJP ally Shiv Sena said earlier this week that the exercise to update the register would not be held in the state and no detention camps would be built.