Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday launched a blistering attack on the opposition over the new citizenship law and vowed the government will not take back the legislation.
Shah dared opposition leaders to a public debate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and said they were driven only by vote-bank politics.
“We are not bothered about the opposition because we have been nurtured with opposition,” Shah said.
The CAA aims to fast-track citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The passing of the bill on December 11 triggered widespread demonstrations in the eastern state of Assam, as protesters feared it would convert thousands of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into legal residents.
Elsewhere in India, protesters say the citizenship law will be followed by the national register, which they fear is designed by the government to expel Muslims who do not have sufficient citizenship documentation.
Speaking at a pro-CAA rally in Lucknow, Shah said “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only giving them homes but also jobs and a better life. Is this wrong?”
Shah slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and accused them of opposing for the sake of opposing.
“Have these leaders read history? Do they know that Gandhiji himself said that if Hindus feel unsafe in Pakistan, India should give them citizenship? These leaders talk but never study,” he stated.
Lashing out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the minister said that a Dalit Bengali family was among the refugees who have been given citizenship. “And she is still opposing the CAA.”
In New Delhi, Congress leader Kapil Sibal accused Modi and Shah of lying to the nation over the CAA and said they are a ‘drag on democracy’.
Sibal’s comment came after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday lowered India’s economic growth rate forecast for the current fiscal year to 4.8%.
Taking to Twitter, Sibal said: “IMF lowers India’s GDP for 2019 to 4.8%. Calls it a drag on the world economy... Protests of people , young and old , across India (who can’t be recognised by the clothes they wear)... Reflect that the duo Modiji and Amit Shah are a drag on Indian Democracy.”
The Congress leader said that the constitution doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion but Modi and Shah wanted to do it “which is why we are opposing it.”
In Kolkata, the West Bengal government announced that a resolution against the new citizenship law will be brought in the state assembly on January 27.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee appealed to the Left Front and Congress legislators to back the resolution.
Meanwhile, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal yesterday met a delegation of protesters from Shaheen Bagh, the venue of anti-CAA agitation in the national capital, and assured them a memorandum given by them would be conveyed to the authorities.
The LG tweeted about the meeting, appealing to the delegation to help maintain peace and order and call off the agitation.
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