Citizenship Act : Non-BJP CMs Declare Won’t Implement Law
NEW DELHI : In the course of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, nominated member and BJP supporter Swapan Dasgupta innocuously asked the Union home minister Amit Shah to clarify whether the Bill, once in force, would be applicable in a state whose chief minister had openly opposed it..
Although he named neither the state nor the chief minister, it was obvious he was referring to Mamata Banerjee who had given a call to oppose the “divisive” bill “at any cost”. She had said that as long as she is at the helm of affairs, she would not allow the Bill, now an Act, to be implemented in the state.
Amidst thundering applause, Shah replied that he knew which state Dasgupta was talking about and asserted that not only West Bengal but all states would be obligated to implement the Act. The Bill, after being passed in the parliament, has now been notified in the official gazette. Yet, voices of opposition to the Act have only been growing louder.
At least four chief ministers have said that they would oppose the Bill in their respective states. Banerjee has said that West Bengal will not allow the amended Citizenship Act to be implemented “under any circumstances”. On Friday, she announced a series of rallies across the state to protest the controversial law.
“We will never allow NRC exercise and Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in parliament,” Banerjee said, accusing the Centre of forcing non-BJP states to implement the law. “The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country,” Mamta added.
Speaking at a press meet in New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, too, said that none of the chief ministers were brought into the loop before the Modi government went ahead with tabling the Bill in the parliament. “There is nothing federal about this. Did any meeting with chief ministers happen before rolling this (CAB) out?” said the Congress chief minister.
“Any law that breaks the country, Congress has never accepted it. Madhya Pradesh government’s stand will be in line with what the Congress party decides,” he said, when asked about Congress party’s opposition to the Act.Calling it a “process that sows seeds of divisiveness,” Nath joined a long list of non-BJP Chief Ministers who raised their voice against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), risking its nationwide rollout.
Known for his outspoken style, the chief minister of the Sikh-majority Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh categorically called for a boycott of the Act. Referring to the amended Citizenship Act as “a direct assault on India’s secular character”, he said that his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state. He added that since the Congress commands a majority assembly, it will block the “unconstitutional bill” from being implemented in the state.
Parliament had no authority to pass a law that violated the Constitution and violated its basic principles and fundamental rights of the people of India, said the Punjab CM, declaring CAA to be “null and void” on account of the fact that it was against the tenets and values contained in the Constitution.
“How can you leave out a large section of the Indian population from the protection they have been getting since we declared India a ‘sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic’, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty?”, asked Amarinder Singh, pointing out that by linking citizenship with religion, the CAA would hit at the very foundation of the nation.
“This law is of a very divisive nature. Any legislation that seeks to divide the people of the country on religious lines is illegal and unethical,” he said. The Left Front government in Kerala, too, has decided to oppose the implementation of the Act. Likening the Act to an attack on the secular and democratic character of India, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that Kerala cannot accommodate an “unconstitutional” law like the amended Citizenship Act.
“The Constitution of India guarantees the right to citizenship for all Indians, irrespective of their religion, caste, language, culture, gender or profession. This very right is being made void by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. A move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to rejecting the Constitution,” he said.
The Left parties decided to rally against the Act in the days to come. In a series of tweets, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that his party along with like-minded parties will continue to oppose the Act. It has planned a protest rally on December 19.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his opposition to the Act. In a scathing attack on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Vijayan on Thursday said, “Come what may, it’s not going to see the light of day in Kerala.” “The CAB is absolutely undemocratic and against the basic tenets of the Constitution. For the world outside, the CAB is a shame for India. said Vijayan.”We will not accept it”.
Individual state governments are not empowered to halt the implementation of a law that comes under the centre’s mandate, sources in the Union Home Ministry claimed today, amid a rising chorus of opposition to the amended Citizenship Act.
“States do not have the power to say ‘no’ to a central law enacted under the Union List of the Constitution’s 7th Schedule,” a top ministry official said, adding that the granting of citizenship is a central prerogative.
The bill became a law late on Thursday night, after it received President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent, amid violent protests in the Northeast. Two people were killed in police firing in Assam’s Guwahati earlier that day.
(With Agency Inputs ).