As Rajasthan became the third state on Saturday, after Kerala and Punjab, to pass an Assembly resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Telangana government announced that it would not implement the legislation that has seen protests across the country.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, whose Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) had voted against the CAA in Parliament but has since kept quiet on it, told reporters in Hyderabad, “We are against the Act. The Centre has to withdraw it. What will they achieve by dividing people? We will not implement it.” Calling the CAA “the first step towards an NRC (National Registry of Citizens)”, he added that he would “tie up” with other parties and state governments opposed to the CAA, NRC and the National Population Register (NPR) for a joint strategy.
“If we remain silent and do not oppose the CAA fiercely, the nation will not forgive us. What will happen if Indians living in Gulf countries are driven away?” Rao said.
The resolution passed by the Rajasthan Assembly urged the Centre to repeal the CAA, making it the second Congress-ruled state after Punjab to do so. Earlier, the Kerala Assembly had passed a resolution against the CAA, moved jointly by the ruling Left alliance and the opposition Congress-led UDF.
The Rajasthan resolution said the CAA “violates the provisions of the Constitution” and “threatens the secular fabric of the country”, and also asked the Centre to put off the NPR exercise as there was apprehension that it was a prelude to the NRC.
The BJP opposed the resolution, accusing the Congress of pursuing appeasement politics.
Addressing mediapersons after the TRS created history by sweeping the municipal elections, Rao said there was no need for a law like the CAA. “In almost all Telangana towns, Hindus and Muslims live together peacefully. These kind of policies are not required as they will divide people.”
The CM added that people of the country were against the CAA, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah should judge the mood and withdraw it. He said the CAA and NRC plan had derailed the country at a time that it “was doing well and going forward wonderfully”. “There are already enough problems in the country, including poverty and non-availability of safe drinking water.”
He also urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu action and scuttle the CAA, NPR and NRC plans.
Rao had not clarified the TRS’s stand on the CAA in the face of growing protests, despite its ally AIMIM urging it to do so. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is one of the most prominent opponents of the Act.
TRS leader K T Rama Rao, the IT Minister and Rao’s son, however, had said that the party would make its stand against the Act clear once the Centre sent a message to implement it. Home Minister M Mahmood Ali said last week that Telangana would not comply if the Centre went ahead with the NRC.
The Ashok Gehlot government passed the resolution on the second day of the Rajasthan Assembly session. It said the CAA “discriminates persons on religious grounds”, “has been designed to deprive a section from the citizenship of India”, and was the first such law in the history of the country.
It also urged the Union government to withdraw the new questions added to the NPR, and said to soothe fears, the exercise should be held only after this had been done. The additional information will cause “considerable inconvenience… without much tangible benefit. Assam state is a live example of the same”, the resolution said, adding that Rajasthan too had seen protests against the CAA.
BJP MLAs protested against the resolution, saying the matter was outside the purview of the House. However, Speaker C P Joshi said the Assembly was free to express its freedom of expression as the law had a bearing on the citizens of the state.
Later, Chief Minister Gehlot said, “It is the duty of the Centre to keep the federal structure intact and strong. I urge the NDA government to withdraw the Act. The government should not make it a prestige issue.”
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