Punjab assembly passes resolution against Citizenship (Amendment) Act
The resolution brought by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government was passed by the House after a three-and-a-half-hour long discussion, making Punjab the second state after Kerala to do soUpdated: Jan 17, 2020 23:15 IST
The Punjab assembly on Friday passed a resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 by voice vote, seeking revocation of the changes made in the citizenship law.
The resolution brought by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government was passed by the House after a three-and-a-half-hour long discussion, making Punjab the second state after Kerala to do so. Besides the Congress, legislators of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the principal opposition party in the state assembly, and the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) backed the resolution.
However, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, opposed it. The lone BJP member outrightly rejected the resolution whereas the Akalis reiterated their position that the party wants Muslims to be included in the list of communities eligible for grant of citizenship under the amended law.
The SAD also moved a request to seek an amendment to this effect in the official resolution, but it was disallowed by speaker Rana KP Singh.
“The CAA violates secular identify of India, which is the basic feature of the Constitution; therefore the House resolves to urge upon the government of India to repeal the CAA to avoid any discrimination on the basis of religion in granting citizenship and to ensure equality before law for all religious groups in the country,” read the resolution moved by parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra on the second and final day of the special session of the state assembly. The official resolution was passed by the assembly without any changes.
GOVT TO MOVE SC, SAYS WILL FOLLOW OLD PARAMETERS FOR NPR
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder, who had lauded the Kerala assembly for its anti-CAA resolution, said that like Kerala his government would also move the Supreme Court against the Act. “The CAA is divisive and discriminatory. It is not acceptable to us,” he said. Advocate general, Punjab, Atul Nanda later said the state government would approach the apex court to challenge the validity of CAA under Article 131 of the Constitution. “We will examine the matter and file the petition next week in all probability,” he said.
Amarinder also said the Census 2021 would be carried out on basis of old parameters in the state. “The new factors added by the Centre for the purpose of the National Population Register (NPR) will not be included,” he said. The resolution also mentioned apprehension about NPR being a prelude to the NRC designed to deprive a section of persons from citizenship of India and implement CAA, seeking amendments in the forms/documentation associated with the NPR to allay such apprehension. The NPR is a comprehensive identity database of all “usual residents” of the country with their biometric particulars whereas Census is a decennial exercise conducted to create database of households. The Congress has been opposing the CAA, NRC and the NPR.
CAPT COMPARES CAA WITH “ETHNIC CLEANSING”
Calling the CAA divisive and NRC a tragedy, Amarinder said what was happening in India was not good for the country. “What happened in Germany under Hitler in 1930 is happening in India now. Germans did not speak then, and they regretted it, but we have to speak now, so that we don’t regret later,” he said before hitting out at the Akalis during the discussion.
Hitting out at the SAD for its stance on the matter, Amarinder said they had forgotten history just to cling to power and should be ashamed. He also made an appeal to the Akalis to rise above politics and think about their own country before deciding on their vote. Opening the discussion on the resolution earlier, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal questioned the intention of the Centre. He said the CAA had been introduced to single out one particular religion and this will perpetuate sectarian tendencies.
Technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the CAA was a vicious attempt by the BJP to introduce religion as basis of citizenship. When Channi accused the SAD leadership of changing the ideology of the party and asked if Akalis would support the demand for ban on RSS, he faced sharp retorts from Bikram Singh Majithia. Channi and Majithia took personal digs at each other and the speaker had to intervene to restore order.
Congress MLA Randeep Singh Nabha also said that the amended citizenship law was dangerous for secular fabric of the country and had instilled a sense of fear among minorities. Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema described the CAA as the hidden agenda of the RSS to terrorise the minorities and Dalits with the sole motive of polarising the country on religious lines. “The BJP is constantly making all-out efforts to tinker with the basic tenets of the Constitution for its vested interests,” he said. He also proposed a resolution to condemn the violence in JNU and Jamia Milia University. AAP MLA Aman Arora termed the move an attempt by the BJP to hide the failures of the Modi regime on all major fronts.
‘SAD TO OPPOSE NRC IF INTRODUCED’
Opposing the resolution for repeal of CAA, SAD member Sharanjit Singh Dhillon asked the Congress and the AAP members if they were opposed to grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi communities under the amended law. “We want the Congress not to oppose the relief given to thousands of Sikhs from Afghanistan, but to focus on securing relief for Muslims also,” he said, participating in the discussion. On NPR, he reminded the Congress that the exercise was carried out during the Manmohan Singh government in 2010. Majitha said the SAD would oppose the NRC if it was implemented at any stage. “We are opposed to any move that forces needless hardships on the common people,” he said, adding, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clarified that the govt is not contemplating to introduce NRC”.