Budget Session: President Kovind praises CAA as opposition erupts in protest in Parliament
Opposition parties on Friday protested inside Parliament with black bands and slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act during President Ram Nath Kovind’s customary address to both Houses during the first day of Budget Session.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the opposition parties for disrupting the President’s speech, saying it was “a complete breakdown of convention”.
All opposition members in both the Houses, including Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, gave up their designated seats inside the Central Hall to sit together as one block.
Trinamool Congress’ members of Parliament (MPs) even showed placards during the President’s speech.
Minutes into the speech, when President Kovind spoke about the citizenship act, opposition MPs led an uproar .
“In the times after Partition, Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had said that those Hindus and Sikhs who don’t want to stay in Pakistan, can come to India. It is the duty of the government of India to give them a normal life,” President Kovind said.
“I am happy that both Houses of Parliament passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act to fulfil the dreams of those who built our country,” he said.
Opposition leaders also interjected later when the President spoke about the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and of turning India into a gas-based economy in the future.
The BJP’s spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said the behaviour of the opposition members was “akin to what is happening in Shaheen Bagh”.
“Today is the first day of the Budget Session, the opposition would have got an opportunity to present their views. But today was not the occasion to make a political point,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
“Congress has been in power for so long. They should have thought twice before disrupting the President’s speech. The TMC also raised placards… This is a complete breakdown of convention,” he added.
Even before the Budget Session began, Congress MPs of both Houses carried out a protest near the Gandhi statue with placards that read “Save democracy”, “Save India”, “No to NRC-CAA-NPR”.
Party president Sonia Gandhi, former president Rahul Gandhi, Azad, senior leaders Motilal Vohra, Ahmed Patel, Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, AK Antony and the party Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs were present.
The amended citizenship act seeks to fast-track citizenship to six persecuted religious minorities from three neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before 2015. It leaves out Muslims which has given rise to protests all across the country.
The protesters have accused the government of dividing the country on religious line with the act. But the Centre has maintained that CAA will have no impact on the Muslims living in India and has refused to scrap the law.
The Congress-ruled assemblies of Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal have already passed resolutions in their assemblies demanding the scrapping of the law, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.