The Congress on Wednesday strongly opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha, accusing the government of bringing a “patently unconstitutional” and “divisive” legislation to “advance its Hindutva agenda”. The party argued that the Supreme Court will strike down the Bill on the ground that it is arbitrary and added that it “fails the morality test” and hurts the “soul of India”.
“I am convinced that the Bill that you have brought is an assault on the very foundational values of the Indian Constitution, it is an assault on the Republic of India, it hurts the soul of India, it is against our Constitution, against our democracy, it fails the morality test, it is divisive and discriminatory, it is against the very preamble of the Constitution…which talks of liberty, equality and secularism,” Congress’s Anand Sharma said.
Former Home Minister P Chidambaram said the government is introducing a new category of citizenship called “citizenship by arbitrary executive fiat” and is seeking Parliament’s support in passing what is “patently an unconstitutional law” to advance its “Hindutva agenda”. “You think it will stop here. It will not stop here. It will eventually go to the judges and the judges are respectable people but they are unelected. This unelected judges and unelected lawyers will ultimately decide whether what we do is constitutional or not. This is a slap on the face of Parliament,” he said.
“Fortunately, we have three organs of the state…the executive is complicit, the legislature is being invited to collaborate, hopefully the judiciary will strike it down and will save India and the idea of India,” he said.
Former Union minister Kapil Sibal asked Home Minister Amit Shah to explain how the proposed law chooses to allow persecuted minorities when the Bill does not mention the phrase “persecuted minorities” anywhere. “Where is the provision for persecution? How will you prove he was persecuted unless he says so?”
“Has any illegal immigrant who has ever come to India said he was persecuted? Which Hindu has said he was persecuted? You know what they’ve said in their legacy papers? That they are residents of India. You are forcing them by law to lie that they were persecuted,” he said.
Sharma also hit back at the BJP for blaming the Congress for Partition. He said when the Congress was banned and its leaders imprisoned during the World War II, the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha told the British that “we will help in formation of governments in the provinces loyal to her majesty’s government”. In 1943, he said, it was Savarkar who had said “I have no problems with Jinnah’s proposal for a two-nation theory”.
Asking the government to follow the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “Gandhiji’s spectacles are not just for advertisements. There is a need to see the entire nation, the society and humanity through them.”