In a rare coming together of political forces against the Centre, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government on Monday joined hands with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition to protest against the enactment of the recently legislated Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala joined a galaxy of Ministers, political leaders and heads of social organisations to condemn the BJP-sponsored law as patently unconstitutional and discriminative against Muslim migrants aspiring for Indian citizenship.
‘Religion as criterion’
Mr. Vijayan stood his ground on the State’s refusal to implement the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He alleged that the Centre aspired to lead the country through a descent into theocracy by fixing religion as the criterion for citizenship. None of the earlier amendments introduced to the Citizenship Act, 1955 had sought to differentiate the people on the basis of their faith.
He also questioned the rationale behind excluding suppressed minorities from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal with which India shared land and maritime borders.
“While the legislation has included Afghanistan with which the country did not share a border, the Centre has deliberately refused to consider the long-standing demand of 73,000-odd Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka and the numerous Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to grant them citizenship,” he said.
‘Pall of fear’
Mr. Chennithala said a pall of fear had descended over the country with the law upending the idea of a nation that was built on liberty and equality. While the Centre has used its enforcement agencies to intimidate its political detractors, it has also cowed the corporate media, writers and intellectuals into submission.
Pointing out that the legislation was the first one that differentiated citizens on the lines of religion, Mr. Chennithala also likened the scenario to the formation of Israel as a Jewish homeland which had been the long-standing goal of Zionist organisations.
Citing instances from the past, Law Minister A.K. Balan said the Centre cannot impose the legislation upon States in a unilateral manner.