Cognitive dissonance seems to be one of the telltale traits of politicians belonging to the Congress fold. Now and then, Congress leaders pompously make claims that run counter to their earlier held beliefs.
For instance, Congress leaders were among the forefront in spreading vaccine hesitancy in January this year. When the pandemic’s deadly wave hit the country in mid-April, they made a stunning about-turn, accusing the government of not expediting the vaccination process. There have been countless such u-turns and flip-flops in the recent past, where the party has taken a definite stance, only to backpedal later in the future.
One such instance being Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill’s recent stance on the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Amidst the exacerbating Talibani offensive in Afghanistan, Shergill tried to project himself as some sort of a leader concerned about the minorities living in the strife-torn country. In a letter directed to Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, Shergill demanded immediate evacuation of Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan.
Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill writes to External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar requesting for immediate evacuation of Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2021
(File photo) pic.twitter.com/2sEcU6M8FG
The request comes at a time when Talibani terrorists are seeking to establish their dominance in Afghanistan. By some accounts, the Taliban already holds sway in large swathes of land in the country, with offensive launched in areas where it is yet to regain control. The Taliban is known for its crude ways and for adhering to the medieval version of Islam, which entails imposing stifling measures on its population to exact obedience to the Sharia law. Minorities are treated as second-class citizens, who are tortured, maimed, raped and killed, almost with abandon.
In such a scenario, one would have lauded Jaiveer Shergill for being the voice of minorities leading an abject life in Afghanistan and raising concern on their behalf with the Government of India. However, Shergill’s past utterances with regard to the Citizenship Amendment Act, the law that was formulated with the express purpose of naturalising the minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, reveals that Shergill’s recent letter to EAM S Jaishankar is nothing but a cynical attempt to warm up to Hindus and Sikhs in India.
Jaiveer Shergill, Congress party had fiercely opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act
Jaiveer Shergill had been one of the passionate opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act ever since it has been promulgated as a law. Days after its passage, Shergill penned an article in The Hindu, stating that the decision was passed without careful consideration of potential ramifications. In the article titled ‘A decision without forethought’, Shergill argued against the enactment of the CAA, alleging that the decision lacked foresight and had the potential of plunging the country into chaos.
Later, as the country was swept in violence by the anti-CAA protests, Shergill also supported the hoodlums protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. In January 2020, Shergill had asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to apologise for the deaths of rioters protesting against the CAA.
Shergill’s party, Congress, has also been fiercely opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. It has been resolutely protesting against the Law and consorting with groups known for carrying out anti-CAA protests. A Congress leader also claimed that he had helped the Shaheen Bagh Protests where anti-CAA protesters had illegally blocked an important thoroughfare in the national capital.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi also railed against the Citizenship Amendment Act. During the election hustings in Assam earlier this year, Rahul Gandhi announced that he would not allow CAA to be implemented in the state if Congress comes to power. Congress also promised to build an anti-CAA memorial in Assam should it forms a government in the state.
Shergill backpedals from his anti-CAA stand as he demands evacuation of minorities from Afghanistan
Months later, as Afghanistan is circling the drain and minorities there are facing an existential crisis, Jaiveer Shergill and Congress have taken a stand that is in direct opposition to their anti-CAA protestations. As it turns out, it was not the central government but the Congress party and Jaiveer Shergill who lacked the foresight to realise the significance of the Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA).
Though CAA only extends to minorities from the aforementioned states who came to India on or before 31 December 2014, it nevertheless provides the framework for the naturalisation of persecuted minorities living in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in India. With the Talibani offensive escalating in Afghanistan, Shergill turned his back on his party’s stand on CAA and wrote a letter demanding the evacuation of minorities living in Afghanistan.
It will be worth noting whether Shergill still maintains his opposition to CAA or demanding evacuation of minorities in Afghanistan was just a political ploy to win back the confidence of disenchanted Hindus and Sikhs in India.
But the current scenario in Afghanistan provides more reason for why there should not be a cut-off date in the CAA. Persecuted Hindus and Sikhs from other countries should always be able to return to India. Simultaneously, the benefits should also be reserved for Indic religions also.
Now that even the Congress party appears to agree of the necessity of the same, it makes ostensible sense to take the step and implement the CAA in its fullest form.