Union minister Giriraj Singh on Saturday blamed the Congress for attempting to “divide the country” by propagating lies and confusing people on the Citizenship Amendment Act. He added that if former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had a “love for infiltrators”, he could take them to Italy, PTI reported.

“If Rahul Gandhi has love for infiltrators, let him take them to Italy,” Singh told mediapersons in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, adding that the Congress should not indulge in a “policy of double standards”. The minister claimed that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had discussed the amendments to the citizenship law but did not follow through due to “appeasement politics”.

Singh claimed that only the Congress and the “tukde tukde gang” had a problem with the amended Citizenship Act, and that the Bharatiya Janata Party was “cleansing sins of the Congress”. He added that even Mahatma Gandhi said that Hindus and other minority communities in Pakistan had once been citizens of India and should be treated with the same dignity, if they chose to return to the country.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, grants citizenship to six religious minority groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, provided they have lived in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised and called discriminatory because it excludes Muslims. There have been massive protests against the amended citizenship law in the last two weeks. At least 26 people died in the protests – 19 of them in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh’s remarks came on the day Gandhi urged people to come together against the BJP and its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s attempts to tarnish the state’s culture and history. “They think they can suppress the culture and history of the North East, they did not understand your pulse,” he said, according to NDTV. “We will not allow the BJP and RSS to attack the history, culture and tradition of Assam. Assam cannot be ruled from Nagpur. Assam will only be run by its people,” he added.

Earlier on Saturday, the Congress leader attacked the Narendra Modi-led government over the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens exercise, saying it will be more disastrous than the 2016 demonetisation. The population register is linked to the census, due in 2021, and is described as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”. Last week, the Cabinet approved funds of Rs 3,900 crore to update the population register. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants.