Varun Gandhi supports asylum for Rohingyas, BJP fumes
New Delhi, Sep 27: As a raging debate is going on in the country over the controversial issue of deporting Rohingyas, who are currently facing violence and persecution in Myanmar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi has spoken in favour of giving them asylum in India.
Varun expressed his opinion in regard to the minority Rohingyas from Myanmar in an article in the Hindi daily, Navbharat Times.
"My recent piece focused primarily on defining India's asylum policy, with clear demarcations on how we would accept refugees," Varun wrote on Twitter. "As for the Rohingyas, I've called for empathy, leading potentially to asylum, while vetting each applicant for national security concerns."
The Member of Parliament (MP) from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, took a completely different stand from what the ruling BJP had to say over the entire matter. In a recent affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Narendra Modi government outlined its plan to deport around 40,000 "illegal Rohingya immigrants", staying in various parts of the country, as they pose "security threat" to India.
Varun's opinion in the Hindi daily evoked sharp reactions among his colleagues in the BJP. Union minister Hansraj Ahir said those who have national interest in mind should not make such statements.
Ahir, while criticising Varun's stand, told reporters that, "Jo desh ke hith mein sochenga woh is tarah ke bayan nahi dega (Anyone who has national interest in mind, won't make such statements)."
Last week, home minister Rajnath Singh said Rohingyas were not refugees who have applied for asylum in India but illegal immigrants who "will be deported". The BJP, in its national executive meeting on Monday, adopted a resolution supporting the government's stand on the Rohingya issue, saying it fulfilled its responsibilities by providing humanitarian relief to Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees while ensuring that internal security was not compromised for its 125 crore citizens.
This is not for the first time Varun's opinions have clashed with that of the BJP. Early this year, Varun decided to stay away from campaigning in the UP Assembly elections after his name did not appear in the list of the BJP as its campaigner in the initial days.
The BJP included Varun's name as one of its campaigners at a later stage which angered him, says a BJP insider.
Meanwhile, two Rohingyas have submitted a counter affidavit in the apex court saying that they have come to India as they faced violence and persecution in Myanmar and as per the international laws they are refugees and India should let them stay in the country.
According to an estimate by the United Nations (UN), around four lakh Rohingyas have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the last one month after they faced violence and persecution in their "homeland".