Amid conflicting statements by its senior leaders over Assemblies adopting resolutions against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the Congress on Sunday said the States had the right to disagree with the Centre.
“Let the BJP government and its Governors not forget that India is a Union of States. As per the established parliamentary practice, States can disagree with the Union and challenge the same by way of their Constitutional right under Article 131 of the Constitution,” Congress communication chief Randeep Surjewala said in a statement.
“In the past, many States such as Karnataka, Bihar, Rajasthan, just to name a few, have approached the Supreme Court under Article 131 to resolve disputes with the Union of India on a range of issues. Until the issue is resolved on a petition moved under Article 131, States cannot be forced to implement an unconstitutional law like the CAA,” he added.
The people’s movement against the CAA shall go on “courageously and fearlessly” as citizens, parties and States shall continue to oppose the CAA with determination, the Congress chief spokesperson said.
“Repeated statements being made by the Home Minister and BJP-appointed Governors and forcing the States to implement the CAA are itself preposterous and go against the very concept of constitutional federalism,” Mr. Surjewala said.
The party’s strong articulation came after former Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday had said in Kerala that the States could not refuse to implement the CAA after Parliament had passed it.
But the Congress leader “clarified” his position on Sunday.
“I believe the CAA is unconstitutional. Every State Assembly has the constitutional right to pass a resolution and seek its withdrawal. When and if the law is declared to be constitutional by the Supreme Court then it will be problematic to oppose it. The fight must go on!” Mr. Sibal said in a tweet.
Senior Congress leader Salman Khursid echoed his views, while speaking to the news agency ANI.
“If the Supreme Court doesn’t interfere, it will remain on the statute book. If something is on the statute book, you have to obey the law, else there are consequences,” Mr. Khurshid was quoted as saying.
Former Minister Jairam Ramesh too had described States opposing the CAA as a tricky business as citizenship is a Central subject.
The Congress reiterated that the CAA was a diversionary tactic from issues such unemployment, and cited the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data that said 26,085 people committed suicide because of joblessness.
“We need lesser issues of pure political rhetoric. We request the Prime Minister with folded hands to attend these issues, which are of life and death,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said at a press conference.