Modi at Ramkrishna Mission
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ramkrishna Mission in Belur Math. Image credit - Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political remarks on the CAA during his visit to the Ramakrishna Mission (RKM) at Belur Math upset many members of the Mission.

The Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered in Howrah district of West Bengal, was founded by Swami Vivekananda.

During his visit to RKM at Belur Math, Modi addressed a gathering on the occasion of National Youth Day, which was hosted by the mission to celebrate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

While speaking on the occasion at Belur Math, Modi said the new citizenship law would not take away anybody’s citizenship.

Modi remarked that a section of the youth was being misguided about the CAA.

Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, continue across the country.

The anti-CAA protests first erupted in Assam but later it engulfed the entire nation.

Anti-CAA protests have also been staged in various other countries including the UK, America, Switzerland, Germany, and others with the participation of Indian students studying in the respective countries and the NRIs.

In his speech, Modi reiterated his government’s refusal to back down on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.

As per media reports, Modi accused those opposing the CAA of “playing political games” and “fuelling misconceptions among the youth”.

A media report quoted Modi as saying: “What is there in this Act? Why was it needed? There are a lot of questions in the minds of the youth which have been fuelled by various people. Lot of youth have awareness. Yet, there are some who are victims of misconception, rumours. It is our responsibility to make them understand.”

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) became an Act on December 12, 2019, after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the bill.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) came into effect across the country on January 10, 2020, through a Gazette Notification.

The CAA benefits Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who sought refuge in India and entered the country on or before December 31, 2014.

The Amendment leaves out Muslims and others from these countries as well as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, Rohingyas from Myanmar, and Buddhist refugees from Tibet.

Ironically, several MPs quoted Vivekananda noting that in his famous 1893 Chicago speech, the swami had said he was “proud to speak for a land that had always offered refuge to the persecuted from all nations and faiths.”

Reacting to Modi’s political remark from the Mission’s platform, Gautam Roy, a mission member, said it is “deeply hurtful to see controversial political messages being disseminated from the platform of RKM, which is an apolitical body.”

A media report quoted Roy as saying: “Let me make two things clear. One, RKM has an elaborate and official process of consecration. Mr Modi has not been officially consecrated and two, he is not allowed to come and make statements which are political in nature.”

“My observation is, RKM has been deeply politicised over the last years, with induction and promotion of senior spiritual leaders who were associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] earlier.”

“Mr Modi’s visit is part of that growing trend of RKM,” Roy said.

Addressing a press conference, Swami Suvirananda, the mission’s general secretary, said, “The organisation will not comment on the Prime Minister’s speech on CAA.”

“We are a strictly apolitical body. We have come here after leaving our homes to answer eternal calls. We do not respond to ephemeral calls.”

He said Modi was a guest and the onus was on him on what he had spoken at the Math.

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