New Delhi, Dec 13, 2019: Days after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared that she will not allow the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be implemented in West Bengal even if it becomes law, her counterparts in Kerala and Punjab on Thursday said they will have nothing to do with the BJP-led centre’s alleged attempts to strip the country of its secular credentials either, NDTV reported.
Terming the bill as an attack on the secular and democratic character of India, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that his state has no place for such an "unconstitutional" law. "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 claimed.
The bill, which intends to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to obtain Indian citizenship, has been accused by rights groups and opposition parties of being discriminatory and violating the constitutional right to equality.
Amarinder Singh said that the Congress, with the majority it commands in the Punjab assembly, will block the "unconstitutional" bill from being implemented in the state. "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.
Mamata Banerjee had voiced her opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill even before it was passed by the parliament on Wednesday. "Don’t be scared of this bill. We are with you, and as long as we are here, nobody can impose anything on you," she told a gathering in Kharagpur even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah was introducing the bill in the Lok Sabha three days ago. The Bengal Chief Minister is also a vocal critic of the National Register of Citizens, which she claims is part of a well-planned exercise to target minorities in the country.
Now that it has cleared the Rajya Sabha, the controversial legislation will become law after acquiring President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent. The Kerala-based Indian Union Muslim League has already challenged the bill in the Supreme Court, and the Congress is expected to follow suit.
Two people were killed in police firing in Assam’s Guwahati on Thursday, amid violent protests against the bill across the country’s Northeast region.