New Delhi: The Congress Wednesday countered the BJP-led NDA government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, saying the proposed legislation will be “struck down in court”.
“We, as elected representatives, are abdicating our responsibility,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP P. Chidambaram.
“We are pushing the responsibility to the lap of unelected judges and lawyers who will now decide on its constitutional validity. This is a slap in the face of the Parliament. This law will be struck down in court,” he added.
“We oppose this bill not because of political but constitutional reasons,” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, who opened the debate for the Opposition. “The bill has been revised but the changes are yet to be scrutinised.”
The controversial bill was cleared by Lok Sabha late Monday night, with the BJP’s clear majority in the House ensuring a smooth passage. It also passed the cut in the Rajya Sabha, with the Upper House passing the bill late Tuesday — 125 to 99 votes.
In the Upper House, the Opposition mounted a valiant attack on the NDA government for trying to pass the “unconstitutional” Bill.
From “thwarting the soul of the Constitution”, “leading to the death of India”, “promoting a fascist Hindu rashtra”, “lack of authentic figures behind the legislation”, “being drawn from the Nazi playbook” to being only worth “throwing into the Bay of Bengal”, the Opposition parties took the BJP-led government head on over the proposed legislation.
‘Straight from the Nazi playbook’
Being the largest and second-largest Opposition parties in the Upper House, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) mounted a scathing attack on the BJP.
“If the BJP is really trying to help the persecuted minorities, why not help Muslim women from Afghanistan, they are the most persecuted,” said Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad. “Does the problem of prosecution of Hindus not exist in Sri Lanka?
“Tripura, Manipur and Nagaland are burning,” Azad added, pointing out that the Army had been moved to Tripura and was on standby in Assam to quell protests in the region.
Trinamool spokesperson Derek O’Brien also attacked the Modi government, likening it to the Nazi regime. “The draft of the bill is drawn from the Nazi playbook, just like the Nazis called Jews rats, our PM and the home minister have used the word termites,” said O’Brien. “There will be a people’s movement against this move.”
The Samajwadi Party’s Javed Ali Khan added that “Jinnah’s dream” that wasn’t fulfilled would come true if the government passed this legislation.
MDMK’s Vaiko called the bill “obnoxious, abominable, undemocratic, unpardonable and unjustifiable”. The IUML’s lone MP, Abdul Wahab, asserted that the bill would only lead to another “holocaust”.
The DMK, TRS and CPI said the bill violates the secular ethos of the country, with the CPI(M) adding that it “legitimises religious discrimination”.
The BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra said the bill would “thwart the soul of the Constitution”, while the RJD’s Manoj Jha called it a “great blunder”. NCP’s Praful Patel asked for a “humanitarian approach” as “persecuted Muslims also seek refuge in India”.
(This report has been updated to reflect the correct number of votes polled against the citizenship bill.)