There was no protest, no heated exchange, no harsh words – but it was clear that writer George Onakkoor did not react the way the BJP expected him to.

BJP minister visits Kerala author for support on CAA the reply wasnt what he expected
news CAA Sunday, January 05, 2020 - 16:45

In the face of massive protests across the country against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens, the Union government and the ruling party BJP have been trying several ways to get support for the legislation. At the national level, they’ve started a nationwide ‘missed call’ campaign that ran into some absurdity. Across states, the BJP has decided to bring in star campaigners to change people’s minds.

On Sunday, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, landed in Kerala to kickstart the BJP’s pro-CAA campaign, a state where both the government and the Opposition are united against CAA and NRC.

Except, day 1 of the campaign got off to a rather embarrassing start for the party.

The party decided to start things off from the home of writer George Onakkoor. Onakkoor was chosen as he had participated in the BJP organised protest against the lapses in police investigation in the sexual assault and death of two minor sisters in Walayar in Palakkad, in front of the Kerala Secretariat. Perhaps this made the ruling party believe that the writer was a BJP sympathiser, and would be a good supporter to have for their campaign.

When Rijiju reached Onakkoor’s home, he was welcomed inside warmly, with Onakkoor holding Rijiju’s hand and taking him inside. In videos of the meeting, a smiling Onakkoor is seen sitting across from Rijiju and engaging in a very civil conversation. However, if the BJP expected him to sing praises of the party and the government, they would have been sorely disappointed.

“There need not be six religions particularly mentioned,” Onakkoor said, referring to the CAA.

The CAA provides for refugees who have entered India before December 31, 2014, from either Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh, to be given citizenship easily. Except, this only applies to people who are either Hindu, Christian, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, or Buddhist. That is, Muslims are excluded from getting citizenship under the law. While the Union government and the BJP have been justifying this exclusion, this has faced severe criticism from people across the country.

George Onakkoor raised the criticism on Sunday while meeting Rijiju. “Generally, we can say that deserving refugees can be accommodated in this great country,” Onakkoor told Rijiju, “That would have been enough. This is a thought raised by a lot of people in the country.”

Rijiju replied to this with, “That’s a most welcome suggestion.” But Onakkoor wasn’t done. “There need not be six religions particularly mentioned,” he added, “Then of course, the Muslim problem came.”

After he received Onakkoor’s cordial dissent, Rijiju repeated the party and government’s line that CAA was not targeting any particular community and that good people like Adnan Sami were welcomed by India. In a statement to the media following the meeting, he said, “There must be peace in the country. We will have differences of opinion in a democracy, but we can resort to many ways to show resentment. Violence is the worst enemy of development. Also, there should not be false or fake campaigning,” he said.

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