“Indians no longer voting for values, but for individuals”– thus spoke India’s most controversial journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. While his contempt towards the voter of the country is not new, this was the headline of a glowing article that The Hindu published about his speech in Hyderabad yesterday. We were told that “Mr Sardesai explained 10 trends he has spotted.”
Just days after apologizing to the High Court of Telangana (located in Hyderabad) for spreading fake news in 2007, Rajdeep Sardesai stood in front of an audience in Hyderabad and continued to mutter lie after lie. We are told that Rajdeep Sardesai stated that “debates were invited after bringing in Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)”. Apparently, he further added that “democracy demands the opposite which is holding dialogue, consultation, and deciding course of action”.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill that intended to fast track citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was first tabled in the Lok Sabha in the year 2016. Yes, in the year 2016. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016. It was further referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee on August 12, 2016. The JPC submitted its report on Jan 07, 2019. The Lok Sabha passed this bill on January 08, 2019. All through these 2.5 years, the bill was in the public domain. There were even protests in Assam against this bill. This bill went through the exact same process that any other bill goes through and through vigorous debates in the committees as well as on the floor of the house.
This bill was rejected in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed once the 16th Lok Sabha’s term ended in May 2019. The BJP and the NDA won back a stronger mandate based on their performance and promises (which included this bill). Because the government listened to the concerns from the 2016 bill, they bought in relevant provisions in the fresh bill of August 2019, that safeguarded the North East states of India.
For a moment, let’s leave aside 2016. Former MP and current VP of BJP, Shri Jay Panda tweeted excerpts from the “Report of Committee on Home Affairs on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003”. Yes, in the year 2003. The committee was headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee. The report clearly recommends that “Indian Citizenship should be granted to Bangladeshi and Pakistani minority refugees.” It further reinforces that “Citizenship must be granted only to Bangladeshi minority refugees and not to the majority”.
So a debate around this issue has been going around since the year 2003. Now, merely because the bill did not go in Rajdeep Sardesai’s way, how can he go about lying to his audience that the bill didn’t have any debates? Merely because Rajdeep was lazy enough to not read or follow the happenings on this bill during the previous Lok Sabha doesn’t mean he goes about lying to his audience that bill wasn’t discussed? What other agendas was Rajdeep busy peddling at that time that he didn’t have time to go over the bill?
We are further told that Rajdeep opinionated that “Candidates are mattering less and less, and we are slowly becoming elected autocracy wherein the individual matters much more than any institution.” This argument is baffling beyond expectations. Any party will go to elections with a leader. Which party in the world goes to an election leaderless? The individual heading the institution guides the institution in a manner that he/she thinks befits it. If he/she does a shoddy job of the same, the people will give their verdict in various elections. Why does such simple logic escape these folks? “Elected autocracy” might sound very fanciful for the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai but this is a direct insult to the representative democracy of India.
We are further told that Rajdeep thinks it is “hazardous to predict future in India”. This is a baffling statement, especially given how Rajdeep predicted a hazardous future for India in his latest hate-filled article in India Today magazine. In today’s digital age of information, how does Rajdeep imagine that he can simply get away with such double-faced unprecedented hypocrisy?