NEW DELHI :
FACING flak from Opposition parties over the new Citizenship Law, the BJP on Thursday posted a video clip of Congress leader Manmohan Singh’s 2003 speech in the Rajya Sabha in which he had advocated a “most liberal” approach to grant citizenship to minorities from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh. In the video, the former Prime Minister is heard saying, “After the partition of our country, minorities in countries like Bangladesh have faced persecution. And it is our moral obligation that if circumstances force people - these unfortunate people - to seek refuge in our country, our approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be most liberal”.
“I sincerely hope that the honourable Deputy Home Minister will bear this in mind in charting out the future course of action with regard to the citizenship act,” he said. As Manmohan Singh, who was the Prime Minister between 2004-14, finished his speech, then Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah is heard telling L K Advani, the then Deputy Prime Minister, that minorities in Pakistan were also suffering and they too should be taken care of.
Advani acknowledged the issue and said he fully endorsed what the Leader of Opposition (Singh) said. The clip is from a debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which was brought by then Atal Behari Vajpayee-led Government. During the discussion on the recent Citizenship Bill, which was passed by Parliament earlier this month, BJP leaders highlighted Singh’s 2003 speech to corner the Congress, which has been vehemently opposing the latest amendments in the law.