Talk by Amb Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary) on "Why the Anti-CAA Protesters are Wrong" on Saturday, 22nd February 2020 at 6 PM, Board Room, SPMRF, 9, Ashoka Road, New Delhi

A tale of complicity


Agitators fanning communal fires and spreading misinformation fuelling anti-CAA protests are the true guilty party behind the unrest gripping the nation.

The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have been continuing courtesy a certain section in the country. These protests are essentially against the Constitution of India and are driven by a mindset which wants to overthrow India’s robust parliamentary democracy. What is disconcerting is that some political parties and their leaders have been egging on street violence and have been indulging in fear-mongering. These leaders are primarily from supposedly mainstream and responsible parties like the Congress and the CPI(M).

Some self-professed constitutional “patriots” have averred that the anti-CAA protests have reached a “strategic dead-end”, what they mean by this is unclear but these constitutional “patriots” and their ilk cannot escape the responsibility of peddling a falsified narrative and reading of CAA in the last few months and thereby misleading a certain section of the society into taking an anti-CAA stance and in indulging in violence. One of them, Ramchandra Guha, a cricket historian, who holds a chair in rocket science, has, for example, expressed surprise at the Yogi government publicly displaying the images and names of arsonists who had burnt and destroyed public property during the anti-CAA protests in Lucknow in December. A self-declared epitome of constitutionality, this cricket historian, has not only peddled lies on the CAA but has repeatedly sided with those who have indulged in violence in the name of protecting the Constitution against the CAA! His latest outbursts in support of the arsonists of Lucknow is another example of his perfidious mindset.

One thing has become evident and that is that the anti-CAA protestors have tied themselves up in knots and have, by colluding with formations that are inimical to India’s national interest, ensured that their protests be taken control of by such elements. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, disclosed in his reply to the Lok Sabha, that three financiers of the anti-CAA protests have been rounded up and the conspiracy to defame India or to destabilise her internally is not a homegrown effort only, it has international dimensions and angles. The vast majority of Indians are surprised at the needless ferocity of these protests. Not that the ferocity has served any purpose and most of the protests now are gasping for oxygen. But what is worrying is how a certain section among the political, intellectual and academic class has wilfully fanned the fires of violent protest, it is this attitude and approach which bodes ill for the future of Indian parliamentary democracy.

Former National Advisory Council (NAC) member, of which Congress “interim” president Sonia Gandhi was the chairperson during the UPA regime, Harsh Mander, known as her close confidante and policy advisor, for instance, has been repeatedly calling for settling the CAA issue and the Article 370 abrogation issue on the streets. He has called for rejecting the Supreme Court of India, for rejecting the Parliament and has incessantly demanded from the protestors that they settle the matter on the streets. In short, Harsh Mander has called for violence and mobocracy to take over the spirit of democratic protest, dialogue and debate. Earlier, Mander’s political mentor and benefactor, Congress “interim” president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, both members of Parliament, had called for people to hit the streets, to come out and protests against CAA. This violently revanchist call was given on December 14 and as Union Home Minister Amit Shah, pointed out, the Shaheen Bagh protests began on December 16.

The CPI(M) leaders too have not been far behind. Over the last three months or so, they have been at the forefront, spreading misinformation and false information on CAA, thereby generating a wave of false consternation and panic among a certain section of the people and a particular community. The provocations of the communist party leaders and cadres have spread violence, their instigation has created a sense of uncertainty in the lives of many. Politbureau members like Mohammed Selim, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, former Kolkata Mayor and now Congress supported CPI(M) member nominated to the Rajya Sabha, Bikash Bhattacharya, persisted with their communal tirade on social media throughout the period when the Delhi riots were going on. A study of their public stance and postures will reveal the quantum of the communal poison that they were liberally broadcasting. The complicity of a certain section of the leadership of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in abetting violence protests in the national capital, in coordinating the Delhi riots and in fanning passions is now becoming increasingly evident. The AAP joins these other parties in being irresponsible political entities, who have resorted to divisive politics, have supported arsonists and violent groups, have encouraged and tolerated attacks on security forces and law enforcers and officers on duty. This is a dangerous stance, a stance which hits directly at our Constitutional fabric and jeopardises our democratic future.

The communist conglomerate and their international intellectual networks have always worked to undermine India’s national interest and image internationally. Indian communists and their ideological intellectuals in the West are the ones who have, since the abrogation of Article 370, persistently called for international interference in India’s internal affairs. The Congress too is now an active participant in this nefarious game and its leaders and driving “family” cannot escape complicity in the Delhi violence.

Along with all of this comes the preposterous claim made by an elected chief minister of an India state that the Coronavirus issue is a ploy of the Modi government to divert attention from the “Delhi riots.” Such fantastic contentions only expose the actual state of mind of the anti-Modi brigade, a state of mind which is uncontrolled, assailed by bouts of delusions, is incoherent, misguided, devoid of agenda and plagued by a lack of direction. Among those who fan the fires of false protest against the CAA, is an increasing realisation of their own irrelevance and marginalisation. This propels them to try and retard the emergence of a “New India.”

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