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Unconstitutional: Opposition voice in Rajya Sabha on Citizenship Amendment Bill

Congress fielded several leaders to speak on the bill, with party’s deputy leader Anand Sharma being the first speaker. He demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee for scrutiny. Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien said Citizenship Bill cannot be delinked from NRC while Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut cautioned the government against teaching it Hindutva.

ET Bureau|
Dec 12, 2019, 06.41 AM IST
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Several speakers referred to Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution and said whenever the issue of citizenship has come up — be it the case of Sri Lankan Tamils or refugees from Kenya and Uganda, or the previous nine amendments to the Act — religion was never the basis.
NEW DELHI: Opposition parties put up a spirited fight in the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill despite being aware that the numbers were in favour of the NDA government. Most members emphasised that by making religion the basis of citizenship, the government was going against the basic tenets of the Constitution.

Congress fielded several leaders to speak on the bill, with party’s deputy leader Anand Sharma being the first speaker. He demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee for scrutiny. “The bill that you have brought is an assault on the very foundation of the Constitution. It hurts the soul of India. It is against our Constitution and democracy. It fails the morality test,” Sharma said.

Sharma said Savarkar had chaired a meeting of Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 at Ahmedabad where a resolution on two-nation theory was passed. He alleged Savarkar had said he had no issues with MA Jinnah’s two nation theory.

Several speakers referred to Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution and said whenever the issue of citizenship has come up — be it the case of Sri Lankan Tamils or refugees from Kenya and Uganda, or the previous nine amendments to the Act — religion was never the basis.

Congress’ P Chidambaram alleged that a new category of citizenship was being created by “arbitrary executive fiat” which is likely to be struck down by the courts. “This bill is unconstitutional and the government is ramming this in pursuit of its Hindutva agenda,” he said. He sought to know how these three countries were clubbed when there was the issue of persecution of Christians in Bhutan and Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien said Citizenship Bill cannot be delinked from NRC. “This (citizenship on basis of religion) will be written in golden letters but on the grave of the father of the nation of Pakistan, on Jinnah’s grave in Karachi,” he said.

Congress’ Kapil Sibal took digs at Shah, asking which history books he had read and the experts he had consulted to come up with such a notion of the past. He charged BJP with trying to change history. “No Musalman is afraid of you… Don’t convert this country into a Jurassic republic which has only two dinosaurs,” Sibal said.

Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut cautioned the government against teaching it Hindutva, saying a perception is being created that those who are opposing the bill are anti-national. Sena walked out when the bill was put to vote.

SP’s Javed Ali Khan said through this bill the government was trying to fulfil Jinnah’s dream. It will lead to making India “Muslim-mukt (free of Muslims)”. Later, he asked the government why it was mentioning specific religions in the bill. CPI’s Binoy Viswam said this law would be a Damocles’ sword hanging over Muslims. BSP’s SC Mishra, NCP’s Praful Patel and PDP’s Mir Mohammad Fayaz also opposed the bill.

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