Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said he was delighted after the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The prime minister said the bill was in line with India’s centuries old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values.

“Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, after a rich and extensive debate,” Modi tweeted. “I thank the various MPs and parties that supported the bill.”

Modi praised Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who introduced the bill in the Lower House and maintained that the bill abided by the Constitution. “I would like to specially applaud Home Minister Amit Shah ji for lucidly explaining all aspects of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019,” he added. “He also gave elaborate answers to the various points raised by respective MPs during the discussion in the Lok Sabha.”

The prime minister was not present in the House during the debate. After over seven hours of heated debate the bill was passed by a division of votes with 311 in favour and 80 against it.

The bill proposes amendments to a 1955 law to provide citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If passed, it will grant citizenship to persecuted people from these communities, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.

Opposition leaders put up a spirited attack against the proposed law, and said the bill was unconstitutional and discriminated against Muslims. Shah claimed that had the Congress not divided the country along religious lines during the Partition, there would have been no need for the citizenship bill. Following a fiery speech, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi tore up a copy of the bill, calling it unconstitutional.

Also read: An uneasy silence among Indian Muslims marks the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill