New Delhi: The Kerala assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), making the Left-ruled state the first to oppose legislatively the controversial law that has triggered nationwide protests.
The Centre, meanwhile, is likely to make the entire process of granting citizenship under the CAA online to bypass the opposition by some states, officials said in Delhi.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is mulling the option of doing away with the present procedure of routing the applications for the citizenship through the District Magistrates and designate a new authority.
Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu and a ruling state Congress leader in Maharashtra wanted the respective state assemblies to follow the Kerala example in demanding scrapping of the new citizenship law.
Setting aside their political differences, Kerala’s CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and opposition Congress-headed United Democratic Front(UDF) once again came together to launch a joint offensive against the Centre on the CAA.
While all the members of two fronts unanimously supported the resolution and vehemently criticised the Centre, O. Rajagopal, the lone BJP MLA in the 140-member house, opposed the resolution, terming it as “illegal and unconstitutional.”
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who moved the resolution and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress, who seconded it, alleged that the CAA was an attempt to make India a religious nation. Rajagopal rejected the charge, saying the Act was being “misinterpreted” and lies were being spread by the fronts for narrow political gains.
The chief minister said the implementation of the act will lead to religion-based discrimination in granting citizenship, which was against the secular values enshrined in the Constitution.
Just because both houses of Parliament have passed the CAA, it cannot be implemented as the act was against constitutional values, the CPI-M veteran said.
The resolution was passed at the special session of the Assembly convened to ratify the extension by another 10 years the reservation for SC and ST community in the state assemblies and Parliament.
Several non-BJP Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Amarinder Singh of Punjab have announced they would not implement the CAA but the state assemblies have not approved any formal resolution yet.
DMK lauds move, asks TN govt to follow example
Tamil Nadu’s opposition party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, on Tuesday urged the ruling AIADMK to follow Kerala’s example with regards to the CAA.
“It is the overwhelming desire of the people of this country that every state assembly should adopt such a resolution to guard the basic features of the Constitution,” the DMK chief said in a Facebook post, reported The News Minute.
BJP govt opposes move
Hours after the Kerala assembly passed the resolution, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said parliament alone has got powers to pass any law regarding citizenship and not state legislatures, “including Kerala assembly.”
“It is only the parliament which has got the powers to pass any law with regard to citizenship; not any assembly, including Kerala assembly,” he told a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram.
Prasad said the CAA did not relate to Indian citizens and it neither creates nor takes away citizenship.
According to the amended law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The MHA officials said if the process of granting the Indian nationality becomes completely online, there will be no intervention of the state government at any level in the process of granting Indian citizenship to anyone under the CAA.
MP requests contempt proceedings
A BJP MP has urged Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to initiate breach of parliamentary privileges and contempt proceedings against Pinarayi Vijayan.
Noting that the resolution was moved by Vijayan, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao wrote to Naidu that if the chief minister’s “misdemeanour and ill-conceived” statements and actions go unchecked, it will set a dangerous precedent and lead to administrative chaos and constitutional mayhem in the country.
“What (then) stops one state legislature from passing a similar resolution against another state government or Parliament, passing resolutions against bills passed by state governments to gain political one-upmanship?” Rao said in a communication to Naidu.
(With PTI inputs)