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CAA of concern to states

The BJP-led government, with a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, is understandably keen to implement several of the major promises in its election manifesto. Luckily it has also been able to muster support in the Rajya Sabha convincing regional parties like the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal to vote along with it. The adroit floor management has enabled it to legislate on several of its promises, eg., the triple talaq bill and the scrapping of Article 370 that gave special powers to J&K. The final decision of the large bench of the Supreme Court on the contentious Ayodhya temple issue has cleared the hurdles for the construction of the Ram temple, a promise of
the BJP.

Parties in opposition are aware of the compulsion to reconcile to the rule by NDA II till 2024. They resort to street fights on any and every issue proposed by the government. From the time of Indira Gandhi, the country had failed to win a consensus on major policy issues. In this, PV Narasimha Rao and AB Vajpayee attempted and succeeded to some extent. Sadly, the cleavages have widened since 2004.

Along with it, the public dialogue has been seeing a steep decline in sticking to basic courtesies. If Congress President Sonia Gandhi described Modi maut ka saudagar (merchant of death), Rahul Gandhi made it shriller by an orchestrated chowkidar chor hai chorus. These compliments are returned with equal vehemence by the BJP.
The issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is of great concern to states bordering Bangladesh. These have been affected by the massive influx of Bangladeshis during the 1971 conflict between East and West Pakistan. Remember, worried over the prospect for a split of the nation, West Pakistan waged a war with the East, committed a genocide, which resulted in several lakhs of Bangladeshis crossing over to India. These did impact the population mix of the border states. West Bengal looked at language as a brotherhood and glossed over the factor of the surge of Muslims.

In Assam and other north-eastern states, the problem of the influx in large numbers was affecting its population equilibrium. There is a genuine apprehension over a large number of refugees overwhelming the rights of the local citizenry.

The CAA doesn’t upset the rights or privileges of the Muslim citizens of the country. It only denies citizenship rights for Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who are not minorities in their country.
The issue of enumeration of the National Citizenship Register (NCR) with its implications of the rights of Indian citizens to move across the nation and settle in a place of their choice is interpreted differently by different political parties. The Centre should separate the CAA and NCR and dispel misapprehensions.

Decide quickly on corruption cases

Sadly, there is a strong subjective element in the opposition leaders’ hatred for Modi. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra, P Chidambaram, A Raja, Kanimozhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav and several leaders of Trinamool Congress are facing serious litigations. Lengthy delays by courts in settling these cases keep alive the charge of political vendetta as the issue. Special efforts should be made to decide on corruption-related cases in a quick time.
In the final stages of his tenure, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ranjan Gogoi, set the time limit to decide on important court cases before his retirement, and he did realise this objective. There is an urgent need to establish such time limits for the hundreds of cases involving corruption.

This can be done only if a large number of vacancies in our courts are filled quickly and in time. The Centre that takes an inordinately long time in clearing the recommendations of the judiciary on such appointments should cooperate. Judicial reforms, such as ending endless adjournments and other tactics to prolong litigation, should be made.

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