New Delhi: As the protests continued all over India against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, the government made it clear that it was not going to budge an inch on its decisions.
“Let all these parties come together. The Bharatiya Janata Party is not going back an inch on the CAA,” said Union home minister Amit Shah in Jodhpur on Friday as he launched an “awareness programme” in support of the CAA.
Mr Shah accused the Congress and other parties of running a “misinformation” campaign and playing votebank politics, and said the CAA does not take away Indian citizenship from anyone, but grants citizenship.
However, the chief ministers of non-BJP-ruled states and the Opposition parties continued to remain critical of the measures.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh came out in support of the Kerala Assembly resolution demanding scrapping of the CAA, saying it was the voice of the people and the Centre should also pay heed.
In an open letter to Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Punjab CM said the states have already taken necessary legal advice on the matter and termed the Kerala Assembly’s resolution on the amended citizenship law the “voice of the people” as spoken through their elected representatives, and urged the Centre to pay heed.
Declaring that as heads of state governments “we are neither naive nor misguided”, he said laws could not be forcibly imposed on citizens, and like all powers, even parliamentary powers were coupled with a duty to exercise it responsibly.
Critising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal urged the people to reject the “unnecessary” law and urged the Centre with “folded hands” to roll back the “controversial legislation”. In Guwahati, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury accused the BJP of indulging in “dirty politics” with an intent to consolidate the “Hindutva votebank”.
Will translate CAA in Italian: Shah
The BJP, however, remained firm with no signs of compromise. Mr Shah even challenged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for a discussion on the CAA. “Rahul baba, if you have read the law, come anywhere for a discussion (charcha). If you haven’t read it, I will get it translated into Italian,” he said, in a swipe at his Italian-origin mother Sonia Gandhi.
He stressed that the Congress, Trinamul Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party and the Communists are opposing the law.
Shah said it is hard to understand why West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is opposing citizenship for Bengali-speaking Hindus and dalits living in West Bengal.
“There is no need to fear from Didi. I want to say that refugees living in Bengal will not have to face any atrocities. You will be granted citizenship with honour,:” the home minister said.
In New Delhi, Union minister Nityanand Rai said those protesting against the CAA should be declared anti-OBC and anti-dalit and only “a handful of people have come out and are protesting” against the CAA.
The BJP plans to take out 500 rallies across the country, beginning Sat-urday, to reach out to three crore people.
Responding to the BJP’s barbs, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot advised the BJP to shun arrogance and go for a rethink on the CAA and NRC.
“PM Modi used to give ‘Mann ki Baat’ speeches and people used to listen. Now, why such a situation has developed that he has to give a clarification regarding the CAA, NPR and the NRC. He is sending people all over the country, all leaders to go and explain to the public. Why has such a situation developed,” Mr Gehlot asked, while accusing the BJP of polarising the country....