After West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab have emerged at the forefront of a pushback by Opposition governments against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed in Parliament this week, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying Thursday that “an anti-Constitutional law will have no place” in his state.
“The Supreme Court had made it clear on several occasions that the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be undermined. So, it is clear that this law will not stand legal scrutiny. When that is evident, there are heinous political aims behind passing anti-Constitutional laws using the arrogance of power…Kerala will not implement it. Discrimination based on religion will not be allowed,” he said.
The CAB seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — it leaves out Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until December 31, 2014.
Describing CAB as a direct assault on India’s secular character, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, his government will not let the legislation be implemented in Punjab. “We have a majority in the Assembly, and will block the Bill. We will not let it rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity,” he said.
“It is the duty of an elected government to safeguard the cherished values ingrained in the Constitution and not destroy them. 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,” Singh said.
Any legislation that seeks to divide people on religious lines is illegal, unethical & unconstitutional. India’s strength lies in its diversity and #CABBill2019 violates the basic principle of the constitution. Hence my govt will not allow the bill to be implemented in Punjab.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 12, 2019
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the CAB was clearly unconstitutional. “Whatever decision is made at the Congress party forum on the Bill, will be applied in Chhattisgarh.” His Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Gehlot said the CAB was yet another attempt by the BJP to advance its agenda of Hindu rashtra. “We will go through the Bill first and wait for the verdict of the Supreme court. Their intention is not right… they are playing a dangerous game… their intentions are dangerous,” he said.
Stating that the Bill has “demeaned india before the world”, Vijayan said this would only help push India to share the fate of riot-ridden countries and destroy its reputation as a place where people belonging to different religions live peacefully. “What is being staged was a conspiracy to destroy democracy and equality, and establish autocracy and divide the country on the basis of religion. The Union government is trying to realise the dream of (Veer) Savarkar and (M S) Golwalkar with the amendment… It is the offspring of a concerted attempt to sabotage equality and secularism, the basis tenets of the Constitution,” he said.
Vijayan said the CPM-led Left government in Kerala will “question the legality of this black law at all possible venues”. “The Supreme Court had made it clear that secularism is the foundation of the Constitution. With the amended Citizenship Act, the Union government is creating a division based on religion alone,” he said.
Echoing Mamata, Vijayan alleged that the Bill was a move by “communal forces” to divert attention from the “poor state” of the economy. “This strategy had been successfully experimented by British imperialism in India and Hitler in Germany. History had shown that such plans are short lived. The protests emanating from various parts of the country against the amendment of the citizenship law indicates that,’’ he said.
Addressing an event in Kolkata on December 6, Banerjee attacked the BJP and said: “In your (BJP) manifesto, instead of development issues, you have put in a promise to divide the country. Why will citizenship be on the basis of religion? I will not accept this. We dare you. Be it Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, give citizenship to all and we will hit the streets and support you.”
“You can pass laws in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha forcefully because you have the numbers. But we will not let you divide the country. If everyone keeps shut, I tell you, even if I have to die for this, I will,” she said.