Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday blamed the Congress for the protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act. He also claimed that it was time for the people of Delhi to punish the Congress, in apparent reference to the upcoming Assembly elections in Delhi. The Election Commission might announce dates later today.

Shah claimed that the Congress and opposition parties did not debate the matter properly in Parliament but created confusion and fear outside. “By misleading people on the CAA, the opposition spoiled the peaceful atmosphere of Delhi,” Shah said while speaking at an event organised by the Delhi Development Authority.

He also claimed that the “tukde-tukde” gang was responsible for the protests. “Tukde-tukde gang” is a term used to target people the BJP and its supporters allege are out to balkanise India.

Later in the day, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan lashed out at the Congress, accusing it of misleading and instigating people against the Act, PTI reported. “The Congress has been instigating people for creating an anarchic situation in the country,” Pradhan told reporters in Bhubaneswar. “The opposition party has become intolerant after being repeatedly rejected by the people.”

Pradhan said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had also provided citizenship to refugees fleeing East Pakistan during the 1971 war. He said both Gandhi and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had considered giving citizenship to people fleeing their countries because of religious persecution. “Our party workers will visit the houses and explain to the residents how the CAA is not against Indian citizens,” the minister added. He said a programme had been planned to reach out to one crore people in Odisha.

Meanwhile, Union minister Giriraj Singh claimed that interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party leader Rahul Gandhi, the “tukde-tukde gang” and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi were doing what Mughals and the British could not do – divide India, ANI reported. “They want a civil war in India,” he alleged.

There have been massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in the country over the last two weeks, resulting in the deaths of at least 24 people. The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, seeks to provide citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, it exempts Muslims from its purview.

In Delhi, thousands of people were detained as protests raged last week. Internet services were suspended for brief periods and hundreds of people, many of them students, were injured in clashes with the police.