The ruling AIADMK has promised to put pressure on the Union government to revoke the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA if it is voted back to power in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly election. This is among the most important poll promises that the AIADMK has announced in its 2021 Assembly election manifesto. It has promised to strongly oppose the Union government, which is led by its ally in the Assembly election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But here is what is ironic in this election promise.
If one were to go by the manifesto, the AIADMK’s stance is diametrically opposing to the stand it took when the Parliament voted on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) bill in 2019. All 12 Members of Parliament representing the AIADMK voted in favour of the bill.
The AIADMK released its election manifesto at the party headquarters in Chennai on Sunday. Chief Minister and party Joint Coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister and AIADMK Coordinator O Panneerselvam were present at the event. In the manifesto, the AIADMK promised to urge the Union government to revoke the CAA if the party is voted to power in the upcoming election.
In 2019, the opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was strong on the ground across the country, including Tamil Nadu. Several political parties, leaders and celebrities in the state took a stand against supporting the bill. In the Parliament, however, the AIADMK made it clear that it will vote in favour of the bill. Senior AIADMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP A Navaneetha Krishnan had said that the party will support the bill during voting. The AIADMK has just one MP in the Lok Sabha, OP Raveendranath Kumar (Theni), and 11 MPs in the Rajya Sabha. All 12 MPs had voted in favour of the bill in the Parliament.
The CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament, with 125 MPs voting in favour and 99 MPs voting against the bill on December 11, 2019.
The AIADMK’s decision to support the bill in the Parliament drew flak from various quarters, many of whom said that former Chief Minister and AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalithaa would not have supported the bill had she been alive.
Several MPs of the DMK had also pointed out that the CAB, which was eventually passed and made into an Act, excludes Tamil refugees who fled Sri Lanka fearing persecution. In fact, VCK Chief Thol Thirumavalavan pointed out that there are over 70,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka who are in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu and are yet to be given Indian citizenship. “By your definition, they would be considered Hindus. But why hasn't this government come forward to give them citizenship? Is it because they are Tamils? Are Tamils and Muslims people you can simply exclude?” he had questioned.