The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress on Monday jointly protested against the amended Citizenship Act in Kerala, PTI reported. This is reportedly the first time in Kerala that the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front have teamed up to protest against the Centre.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-sponsored law, saying it was “patently unconstitutional and particularly discriminative against Muslim refugees and migrants” aspiring for Indian citizenship.
At the protest meet, Vijayan said the country was facing an “explosive” atmosphere. “This has been deliberately created by the Central government,” he alleged. “The RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s] agenda was to ensure that India should not be a secular, but a religious nation. But India is secular nation and believers of all religions and atheists have a place in this country.”
Vijayan also accused the government of trying to cover up “its failures” through the enactment of the legislation, according to India Today. “The act that aims to reduce minorities in our country will have far-reaching consequences and terrorise the minorities. We need to raise voice against such fascist forces usurping our constitution in one voice.”
He declared that the Kerala government would oppose the Centre’s move to undermine the secular foundation of the Constitution.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the amendments to the Citizenship Act were part of a “great agenda” of the BJP and RSS. The Sangh is the ideological parent of the saffron party. He said that another struggle for Independence is required to save the constitution from “fascist forces”. “When Constitution is in danger, democratic forces should have the will to fight against them,” he added.
Follow our live blog on the political fallout of the Citizenship Act across India.
The chief ministers of Punjab and West Bengal have also opposed the implementation of the amended citizenship law in their states.
The contentious law will grant citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan – all Muslim-majority nations – provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
The protests against the legislation have swept campuses across India. On Sunday, protests erupted after a police crackdown at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, and Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. The police have been accused of using excessive force. On Monday, several Delhi University students were reportedly beaten by the police and detained.