Making the Congress’ stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill clear, former Congress president and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi Thursday said the party will oppose the contentious legislation aimed at providing citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
“Congress party is against any form of discrimination against anybody in this country. So anybody who discriminates against anybody who is Indian, we are against them. That is our line. We believe that India belongs to everybody– all communities, all religions, all cultures,” Gandhi told reporters in Kerala’s Kozhikode.
His statement came a day after the Union Cabinet cleared the introduction of the Bill in this Winter Session. The Bill approved by the cabinet, however, gave exemption to the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. In its previous term, the government could not push the Bill through in the Rajya Sabha due to lack of numbers.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was one of the Congress members who sent a dissent note pointing out that the provisions in the original Bill violate the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 as it provides differential treatment to illegal immigrants on the basis of religion. His party colleagues Sushmita Dev, Bhubaneswar Kalita (who has now joined the BJP) and Pradeep Bhattacharya also gave dissent notes.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which aims to provide citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, has been slammed by several Opposition parties as communal and divisive with the Congress threatening to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court to challenge it.
Meanwhile, commenting on a string of cases against him, Gandhi Thursday targeted the BJP government and said he considered them as his “medals” on his chest and would not be cowed down but fight those cases ideologically. “There are 15 to 16 cases against me. Every single case is a medal for me. When you look at soldier, he will have lots of medals on his chest,” Gandhi, who was speaking at a convention of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) at Vaniyambalam in Kerala, said. “The more they are, the happier I am,” he added.
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