MNS president Raj Thackeray on Saturday virtually dubbed the new citizenship law and proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) as ploys by the Centre to divert the attention of people from the "economic crisis". Thackeray also raised questions over the proposed "influx" of immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to India under the recently-passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). "There is a riot-like situation in the country due to the violence over CAA and NRC. I wonder how many people have understood these two decisions. There are different aspects to these two issues," he told reporters.
For the first time, I would like to congratulate (Union Home Minister and BJP chief) Amit Shah for the "political game" he has played for successfully diverting the attention of people from recession and economic crisis, Thackeray said.
The CAA proposes to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees escaping religions persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, which has triggered massive protests across the country.
"If you can cast your vote showing Aadhaar card as proof then why can't that document prove your citizenship? Why were people made to undergo biometric screening?" he asked. Referring to CAA provisions, the MNS chief said India with a "135 crore population" do not need more people.
There is no need to paint it as an issue between Hindu and Muslims, he said. Thackeray also said India is not a "dharmshala" or a charity shelter where illegal immigrants can come and settle down.
"It is important to check how many Bangladeshis, Pakistanis have entered India from the Nepal border," the MNS chief said even as he appealed to Muslims in India to not feel insecure.
He demanded an inter-state migration act to enable government authorities to identify illegal migrants. Thackeray also criticised the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena for joining hands with the Congress and the NCP to form a new government. He said that that decision was not gone down well with the common people, who will express it in the next elections.
"The good part of the (October 2019) Assembly elections was that most of the defectors who crossed over to other parties got defeated," he said.
Thackeray said the first state-level convention of the MNS will be held in Mumbai on January 23. The Raj Thackeray-led party has only one MLA in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.