OpIndia misreports Kapil Sibal’s speech in Parliament on Citizenship Amendment Bill

On December 9, 2019, the Lok Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019. Two days later, the bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha resulted in a heated debate on its principle and clauses. Reporting on the developments, the right-wing website OpIndia (archive) published an article titled, ‘Sibal attacks Ambedkar as the person who agreed to two-nation theory, gives clean chit to Congress‘.

The website had referred to a tweet by Moneycontrol, which attributed a statement to Congress MP Kapil Sibal who spoke on the floor of the House.

According to the Moneycontrol tweet referred to by OpIndia, Kapil Sibal supposedly said that B R Ambedkar had agreed to the two-nation theory perpetrated by VD Savarkar. “I rise to oppose the CAB bill. The two-nation theory wasn’t ours, it was perpetrated by Savarkar and B R Ambedkar agreed too. Congress believes in one nation. I want Home Minister to withdraw the two-nation statement.” This statement has been attributed to Sibal.

It may however be noted that in the live blog on the Parliamentary proceedings, tweeted by Moneycontrol, there is no reference to Sibal’s supposed statement on Ambedkar agreeing with Savarkar on the two-nation theory.

On the basis of this supposed statement, OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma quipped, “Sibal attacks Ambedkar as the person who agreed to two-nation theory, gives clean chit to Congress No protests from “activists”?”

KAPIL SIBAL MISQUOTED

Alt News found that the Congress MP has been misquoted. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill, these were the exact words of Kapil Sibal:

“I rise to oppose this bill. Sir, I was very disturbed the other day when the distinguished Home Minister said the other day in the other House, why do we need this bill? After independence, if Congress had not done partition on the basis of religion, then we would not have needed this bill today. The Congress did partition on the basis of religion. I dont understand which history books the learned Home Minister has read, which authors he has consulted, but I would like to remind him of what Savarkar said. The two-nation theory was not our theory, you are going to fulfill it today with the passing of this bill, if it is passed. Savarkar said, “There are two antagonist nations living side by side in India. Several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already wedded into a harmonious nation or it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so. These are well meaning but unthinkable friends take their dreams for realities, that is why they are impatient of communal tangles and attribute them to communal organizations”. The two nation theory was perpetuated by Savarkar. And this is what Ambedkar said, “Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah, instead of being opposed to each other in the one nation vs two nation issue, are in complete agreement about it.” Shame. Both agree, not only agree but insist there are two nations in India- one the Muslim nation, another the Hindu nation. I request the Home Minister to withdraw that allegation because we in the Congress believe in that one nation. You don’t believe in it.”

The video clip containing this portion of the speech is posted below.

As evident from the speech itself, Kapil Sibal had not said that B R Ambedkar was in agreement with V D Savarkar over the two-nation theory. In fact, he had said quite the opposite. Sibal had referred to Ambedkar’s words thus: “Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarkar and Mr. Jinnah, instead of being opposed to each other in the one nation vs two nation issue, are in complete agreement about it”. Sibal’s reference to Ambedkar’s view that there was a strange similarity of outlook between V D Savarkar and M A Jinnah insofar as the two-nation theory is concerned i.e. that they both agreed with the idea, has been misreported by misquoting the Congress MP.

Simply put, Kapil Sibal did not say that B R Ambedkar had agreed with Savarkar on the two-nation theory. Instead, he had referred to Ambedkar’s view expressing surprise at the agreement between Savarkar and Jinnah on the two-nation question. The Congress MP has been misquoted in a tweet by Moneycontrol, subsequently picked up by OpIndia which misreported that Sibal attacked Ambedkar, when in fact he was attacking Savarkar.

Update: Following the Alt News article, OpIndia has updated its report. The original version may be accessed here

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