Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday informed that the state will not implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed by the Parliament as it is unconstitutional.
"The state government will oppose this law. We will inform the centre about our position in the matter," the chief minister said in a press conference here.
“Discrimination on the basis of religion will not be tolerated in Kerala. Individuals belonging to every religion has the right to be a citizen of the country.”
"Division of the country on the basis of religion is an RSS dream and the CAB was part of its agenda to achieve this vision," Pinarayi said.
The Kerala CM also said that the CAB was a master plan to compromise the basic values of the constitution such as equality and secularism.
"Many Muslims decided to live in India in the post-partition period due to its secular ideals. But we are now akin to Pakistan, which is a majoritarian state."
“We are now heading in the path of communal states, fighting in the name of religion. The peaceful coexistence of religious communities in India has always been a fact we cherished as Indians. The CAB has made us hang our heads in shame in front of world nations,” Pinarayi added.
The bill mentions that people belonging to six religious groups from three neighbouring countries can be granted citizenship. These two clauses must be withdrawn, the Kerala CM had said in an earlier statement released prior to the passage of the bill in the Upper House.
"Muslims, who have immigrated from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan are being excluded. The discrimination on the basis of religion and preferential granting of rights is a denial of natural justice."
It is not unknown to the Sangh Parivar that India houses refugees from Sri Lanka in addition to the three aforementioned countries, he added.
"The CAB serves the communal policies of the Sangh Parivar and their devious plans to establish a non-secular state. The articles of the Constitution that relate to citizenship and fundamental rights are being violated here. India belongs to Indians of all kinds. Efforts to undermine this fact will only take our country backwards," he said.
"It will destroy our hard-fought freedom and we must not let that happen", he said.
Citizenship law a direct assault on India's secular character: Punjab CM
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too said the citizenship law was a direct assault on India's secular character and the Parliament had "no authority" to pass a law that "defiled" the Constitution and violated its basic principles.
Any legislation that seeks to "divide the people of the country on religious lines is illegal and unethical, and could not be allowed to sustain," he said in a statement.
"By linking citizenship with religion, the Bill will hit at the very foundation of the nation... What if other countries, where Indians are settled in large numbers and have acquired their citizenship, decide to bring in similar legislation? What will happen to those Indians if the countries of their stay decide to withdraw their citizenship on account of their religious beliefs?" the chief minister asked.
"The Congress government in the state, on its part, would not let the legislation rip apart the secular fabric of the country, whose strength lies in its diversity," Singh said.
Mamata and party to chalk out a strategy to counter Citizenship law
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Thursday convened a meeting of party MPs and MLAs on December 20 to devise a strategy to counter the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
"An emergency meeting has been convened by the TMC chief on December 20. All leaders, including district presidents, MPs and MLAs, have been asked to be present at the meeting without fail. A strategy will be chalked out to counter the citizenship bill," one of the sources said.
"We don't want to limit our fight to just Bengal, but plan to bring together parties from various parts of the country to oppose the bill. If needed, our party delegation will also visit Northeast states to join the protest," a senior party leader claimed.
Banerjee, who has been at the forefront in opposing the legislation and the exercise to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC), had earlier termed her fight against the two issues as "Second War of Independence".
Indian Muslims have nothing to fear: Amit Shah
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday had passed the contentious bill, completing the legislative process for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, with Home Minister Amit Shah asserting that Indian Muslims have nothing to fear as they will not be affected by the law.
As many as 125 MPs voted in favour of the Bill in the Upper House and 99 against it, according to Rajya Sabha sources.
The Opposition termed the bill, which was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, as "unconstitutional", "divisive" and "an assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the nation".
The citizenship law goes hand in hand with another contentious programme, the National Register for Citizens in Assam. All 3.3 crore residents of the state had to prove, with documentary evidence, that they or their ancestors were Indian citizens. About 20 lakh people were left out of the state's citizenship rolls after that exercise.
(With inputs from agencies)