New Delhi: Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal has joined the list of chief ministers to openly voice opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. Kejriwal told IANS that his party opposed the law as a Bill in parliament, and will continue to oppose it even though it has been passed by both houses of parliament.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh had said in the Rajya Sabha that the Bill violated the constitution, and could not be accepted. “I am opposing this Bill as it is against the Constitution made by Babasaheb Ambedkar. It is against the Preamble of the Constitution. It is against the India of the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh,” he had said.
Kejriwal is not alone – a number of opposition chief ministers have said that they oppose the law. So far, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, Madhya Pradesh’s Kamal Nath and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel have said that they “will not allow” the amended law to be implemented in their states.
“BJP does what it knows best. They misguide people in the name of religion and caste. The economy has gone down but there is no discussion on it in the parliament. The prices of onions have gone in excess of Rs 150 but there is no work on that front. They have also not done anything for the Hindu community and only indulge in vote bank politics,” Baghel said about the new law.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs seems unperturbed by this opposition from chief ministers. An official from the ministry was quoted by the Hindu Business Line as saying that state governments “have no powers” to refuse to implement the Act.
The Citizenship Amendment Act grants Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians – provided they came to India before 2014. It was has been widely criticised, from within the country and outside, as being blatantly discriminatory against Muslims.
Despite the criticism, the law was passed by both houses of parliament and given presidential assent.
Several opposition parties, judicial experts and others have alleged that the new Act violates Article 14 of the constitution, which promises the right to equality. Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh have filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Act.