In its revised form, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday, as expected, this was not due to any merit in this proposed legislation or because of BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah’s powers of persuasion or recounting of (phoney) history. The reason was the ruling party’s overbearing numbers.
The most stunning argument the home minister made was that the Congress Party had divided India on the basis of religion in 1947, and that if this had not been the case there would be no need for the bill (if the country had remained one). This is a terrible argument and unbecoming of any Indian of any worth, for it plays into the hands of colonial historiography. However, the communal understanding of history is not markedly different in many important respects from the colonial one, and the home minister’s understanding causes no surprise.
The Partition of India, it has been well documented, was a British colonial project that began in the first decade of the last century when the then Viceroy summoned the topshots of the feudal propertied classes among the Muslims of India to Shimla and urged them to set up a party counter to the Congress, which the colonialists falsely sought to portray as a platform inimical to Muslim interests.
Meanwhile, the proponents of the nascent Hindu communal tendency — whose ideological helmsman was V.D. Savarkar — did not even make a pretence of resisting British rule. Savarkar, in fact, proposed the two-nation theory before Mohammed Ali Jinnah did. The home minister deserves to be reminded that neither the RSS nor Savarkar expressed any view on the Partition plan, the “Rajaji formula” of June 3, 1947.
This envisaged that only Muslim-majority districts in Muslim-majority provinces of British India would constitute the new Dominion of Pakistan. Left to the British themselves or to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan would have been a larger entity and would have included the great port city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) but for spirited intervention by the nationalist movement.
Mr Shah’s bill brings in alleged religious persecution of the “minorities” in Afghanistan too. This catches him out. His observation that if India had not been divided on religious lines, the present bill would be unnecessary is shown to be too clever. The home minister glosses over history in order to present the RSS-BJP as a so-called keeper of “Hindu” interests everywhere. But is there a “Hindu” interest that is separate from India’s interests in an India which is the common home of people of many faiths.