interview | S.R. Balasubramoniyan Tamil Nadu

‘Compulsions of alliance behind AIADMK’s support for CAB’

We are not against Muslims, says AIADMK Rajya Sabha member

The support offered by the AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha members to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, played a pivotal role in the passage of the controversial legislation. AIADMK legislator S.R. Balasubramoniyan, better known as SRB, who spoke in favour of the Bill in the Upper House, says compulsions of alliance were behind the ruling party’s support for the CAB. Excerpts:

Why did the AIADMK support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, when many regional parties across the country had been opposing it?

Compulsion. All the alliance partners [of the BJP], particularly the ruling parties [in the respective States], were under compulsion to support the Bill. But I have pointed out the shortcomings of the Bill. The word ‘Muslims’ is missing. A mistake is a mistake.

Did the BJP directly pressure you into supporting the CAB?

The BJP will not do anything directly. When we were discussing the issue at the party office, the Deputy Secretary from the Secretariat told me over phone to vote in favour of the Bill. I made it clear that I will express my views. He said I certainly had the right to record my opinion.

In your opinion, what was it that prompted the BJP to introduce such a Bill?

The BJP’s objective is [to create] a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). But it may not use the term openly and say it in so many words. It is very particular on making sure that the entire Hindu population becomes its support base. The party is of the view that this will make them irreplaceable in Indian politics. Whenever they get an opportunity, the BJP leaders, particularly Mr. Amit Shah, who leads the Home Ministry, will make use of his position for this purpose.

Did you speak in favour of granting citizenship to the Sri Lankan Tamils in the Rajya Sabha?

I spoke for five minutes. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, the Sri Lankan Tamils have lived here for many years.

Many have left, while some continue to live here as circumstances are not conducive for their return [to Sri Lanka]. The population also includes Muslims. I made a demand for granting citizenship to them.

Wouldn’t the AIADMK’s support for the CAB alienate the Muslim vote bank in the State?

It depends. It may not affect the AIADMK severely. But there will certainly be some impact. We are not against Muslims. You know my stand. You need not remain silent just because you have been elected to the Rajya Sabha. Even in my brief speech, I spoke in support of Muslims. We should take into consideration the interest of the party before deciding on these issues.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 6:08:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/compulsions-of-alliance-behind-aiadmks-support-for-cab/article30314527.ece

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