Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday hit out at the Opposition and said they should not make the “constitutional blunder” of passing resolutions in state assemblies against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. So far, four states – Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal, Left-ruled Kerala and Congress-led Punjab and Rajasthan – have passed resolutions against the amended Act.
“Some opposition parties are passing resolutions in Assemblies [where they have a majority] that their states will not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act,” Singh said at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka. “I want to appeal to them not to do such things. This is a constitutional blunder. Please do not do such blunder.”
“NRC par main kehna chahata hoon. Kya kisi desh ko yeh nahi pata hona chahiye ki desh mein kitne swadeshi hain, kitne videshi hain? NRC agar aa bhi jata hai toh kya pareshani hain? (Should the country not know how many citizens and foreigners are living here? What is the problem even if NRC [National Register of Citizens] is introduced?)” he asked the crowd.
Singh accused the Congress of misleading the country on the Citizenship Amendment Act, The Indian Express reported. He said the party should “not forget its duty to the nation”. “Certain forces want to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims on the issue of CAA,” the defence minister added.
Singh added that persecuted Muslims who want to apply for Indian citizenship can do so despite the Citizenship Amendment Act, The Times of India reported.
Singh said that Mahatma Gandhi, and former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Manmohan Singh were also in favour of granting citizenship to persecuted Hindus and Sikhs. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now fulfilled that vision by bringing in the law,” he said. He said that the Congress Working Committee had passed a resolution to this effect back in November, 1947.
The defence minister claimed that no decision, including that of abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, was taken in a hurry. He added that the BJP in its Lok Sabha election manifesto had promised to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, build a Ram temple in Ayodhya and ban triple talaq. Singh said the BJP has kept all its promises.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
Issuing a warning to Pakistan, Singh said India will not let anyone live in peace if it is harmed. “We will not bother anyone but if someone tries to do so to us, we will not let them live in peace,” he said.