In Kerala assembly vote against CAA, Pinarayi Vijayan holds out a message

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan proposed a resolution in the state assembly that asks the BJP-led national coalition to withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament during the Winter Session.
File photo of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. (Photo @vijayanpinarayi)
File photo of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. (Photo @vijayanpinarayi)
Updated on Aug 14, 2020 07:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By

Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan, one of the first chief ministers to declare that his government will block implementation of the amended citizenship law and the citizens’ register, on Tuesday got the state assembly to back him up.

“The Centre should come of its parochial and sectarian outlook and treat everyone equally,” Pinarayi Vijayan said, delivering his sharp message to the BJP-led national coalition after the assembly voted 138:1 in favour of the resolution that demands the Centre scrap amendments to the citizenship law and the National Population Register.

Kerala assembly is the first to pass a resolution against changes to the citizenship law and the exercise to build a population register that will form the database to create a citizens’ register.

 Watch | Kerala Assembly passes resolution demanding withdrawal of CAA, BJP opposes

The ruling Left Democratic Front has a majority in the 139-member assembly. Plus, the move also was also supported by the Congress-led United Democratic Front and lawmakers.

O Rajagopal, the lone Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker in the state assembly, was the only one to oppose the resolution, insisting that it was unconstitutional to diss a law enacted by Parliament and against the country’s federal polity. Much of his speech was, however, lost in the din and disruptions.

“The new citizenship law is against the secular fabric of the country,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the assembly as he stood up to propose a resolution that asks the BJP-led national coalition to withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament during the Winter Session.

The ruling Left Democratic Front, which had called a special assembly session to debate the proposal, expects the resolution against a law enacted by Parliament to be passed when it is put to a vote.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the new law, combined with the National Register of Citizens, was designed to turn members of the minority community second class citizens. This cannot be allowed, he said, appealing to members to support the resolution irrespective of their political affiliations.

Congress member VD Satheesan supported the chief minister, criticising the amended citizenship law that enables non-Muslim religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It has been widely criticised for introducing the religion test to grant of citizenship to undocumented migrants.

Opposition parties have also cited Home Minister Amit Shah to underscore that the change in the citizenship law was designed to harass Muslims in the exercise to build the National Register of Citizens since non-Muslims would be entitled to become citizens under this law if they can’t prove their citizenship.

VD Satheesan said the amended citizenship law was a clear ploy to divide and rule, against the spirit of the constitution and a clear violation of the constitutional guarantee to equality.

Congress lawmaker Shafi Parambil agreed. “Kerala always shows the country the right path. It is time the state also stood up to its reputation,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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