POLITICS
13/12/2019 1:26 PM IST | Updated 13/12/2019 1:32 PM IST

Punjab, Kerala, Bengal: How Some States Are Opposing Citizenship Amendment Act

Apart from Mamata Banerjee, Pinarayi Vijayan and Amarinder Singh have also said they will not implement the Act in their states.

Despite the Citizenship (Amendment) Act turning into an Act after President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent, several states have refused to implement its provisions. 

The Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities on grounds of religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It excludes Muslims.

The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by the Lok Sabha on Monday.  It became an Act on Friday after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is “unconstitutional” and will not be implemented in the state. Vijayan, according to PTI, claimed that the proposed law is a “rejection of secularism”. 

In a statement, Vijayan said this is an “exercise to divide people on communal lines”

Terming the bill “unconstitutional”, “illegal” and “unethical”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government will not implement it in the state. 

The move is retrograde and regressive and seeks to take India back from the progressive charter mandated by its Constitution, he said, according to PTI.

“By linking citizenship with religion, the Bill will hit at the very foundation of the nation.... What if other countries, where Indians are settled in large numbers and have acquired their citizenship, decide to bring in a similar legislation? What will happen to those Indians if the countries of their stay decide to withdraw their citizenship on account of their religious beliefs?” the chief minister asked.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also been opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and had asked people in the state to not get scared of it.  

She has convened a meeting of party MPs and MLAs on December 20 to devise a strategy to counter the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, according to PTI.

“We don’t want to limit our fight to just Bengal, but plan to bring together parties from various parts of the country to oppose the bill. If needed, our party delegation will also visit Northeast states to join protest,” PTI quoted a senior party leader as saying.

When the bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha, Banerjee had said that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will not be allowed in West Bengal as long as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is in power. 

There’s still uncertainty in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena voting in favour of the bill in Lok Sabha and staging a walkout in the Rajya Sabha. As Huffpost India’s Pavan Dahat wrote:

While Congress leader, and former president, Rahul Gandhi had clearly stated that those supporting the bill were “attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,″ the Shiv Sena’s flip-flop has raised questions on how long the unwieldy three-way coalition will last.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik has said the coalition partners in Maharashtra are committed to ensure that no injustice is meted out to anyone on grounds of religion, caste, language and region in the state. 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has also hit out at the Centre over the bill, saying if the prime minister and home minister want to make India a Hindu nation, they should openly say so. There is, however, no clarity on whether he will implement the provisions of the Act in the state. 

Chhattisgarh minister TS Singh Deo, in a tweet, said he will get in touch with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to ensure that the state does not allow the implementation. 

(With PTI inputs)