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Manifesto of any political party cannot override Constitution: Anand Sharma in RS on CAB

Anand Sharma also asked the government why was it in a hurry in bringing the legislation. "Jaldbaaziu kyun (Why are you in a hurry)? You should have referred it to a standing committee of Parliament and introduced it in the next session," he said after Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the bill in the House.

PTI|
Dec 11, 2019, 06.49 PM IST
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PTI
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NEW DELHI: Strongly opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Anand Sharma on Wednesday termed it as anti-constitutional and said manifesto of any political party cannot override the Constitution.

During the debate on the controversial bill in the Upper House, he also asked the government why was it in a hurry in bringing the legislation.

"Jaldbaaziu kyun (Why are you in a hurry)? You should have referred it to a standing committee of Parliament and introduced it in the next session," he said after Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the bill in the House.

Sharma said though the bill was part of BJP's 2019 election manifesto, it cannot override the principles of the Constitution.

"Every political party has a right to have its own manifesto. But the manifesto of a political party cannot be above the Constitution," he said.

He said there are provisions in the Constitution in Article 6 and many people have applied for citizenship.

Referring to rebirth in Hinduism, Sharma said, "In our religion, we believe in rebirth and meeting our elders. If Sardar Patel meets your prime minister, then he would be very angry, this I can say."

He further said, "Gandhi ji would also be sad saying you are celebrating my 150th birth anniversary and then you do this."

Asking the government to follow the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, he said for him everyone was equal.

"Gandhi ji's spectacles are not only for advertisement. There is a need to see the entire nation through them."

Taking a dig at Shah, the Congress leader said, "You are saying this is a historic bill, but how it will be evaluated in history, this you get to know later."

"We are opposing it and the reason for that is not political, but constitutional and moral. I am convinced that the bill which you have brought is an assault on the foundational values of our Constitution," he said, adding that "it hurts the soul of republic of India" and fails the "morality" test.

Terming it "divisive and discriminatory", Sharma said the bill is against the preamble of the Constitution which talks about "liberty, equality and secularism".

He said for centuries India granted asylum to displaced people. It granted asylum even after Independence to people from countries like Sri Lanka, Uganda, but religion was never a criteria for it, he said.

"The reason is political and you know that there is already a provision to grant citizenship to those who are suffering," he said.

Sharma also dismissed the allegation in the Lower House that his party was responsible for the division of the country in 1947.

He claimed it was the Hindu Mahasabha led by Vinayak Savarkar which first talked about the two-nation theory and division of India and a year later Muslim League also adopted it.

He also questioned the manner in which detention centres were created in Assam and said that it had created unrest in the entire state.

"Entire Assam is burning now. Students have again come on roads again and are agitating," he said, adding that now the government plans to have such detention centres across India and lands are being acquired for it.

While participating in the debate, BJP leader JP Nadda said that the country was divided on religious lines and the essence of this bill is to protect minorities which are being persecuted in nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

On allegations that the bill is discriminatory towards minorities, he said, "When they are persecuted on the basis of their religion, then solution will be based on religion only."

Despite Nehru-Liaquat Pact signed in 1950, minorities in Pakistan were persecuted on the basis of their religion, he said.

Nadda cited an old speech by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in the Upper House in 2003 over treatment of refugees in India.

Reading Singh's speech, Nadda said he had stated that minorities were persecuted in Bangladesh and had told this to the then deputy prime minister L K Advani that it was the country's moral obligation to make the Citizens Act more liberal to help them.

"We have brought this bill respecting his words only (Singh)," said Nadda.

Earlier, moving the bill, Shah said Indian Muslims "were, are and will remain Indian citizens".

The bill provides citizenship to the persecuted minorities, he said.

The legislation, which allows citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who illegally migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday.

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