Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act were yet to be framed as such a huge process could not be conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. Shah made the remark during a two-day visit to West Bengal to kick off campaigns for the Assembly election next year.

“The rules of the CAA are yet to be framed as such a massive process could not be carried out because of the corona. As soon as (COVID) vaccination starts and corona cycle breaks, we will consider it,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act were still under preparation, according to a response to a Right to Information query. Director (Citizenship) Foreigners Division BC Joshi said in the RTI response that his office had not sent any letter related to the CAA to the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation in August.

In July, The Hindu had reported that the home ministry was yet to inform Parliament about the delay in framing rules related to the CAA. This must be done in case the rules are not framed within six months of the Parliament passing the legislation. After the newspaper’s report, the ministry sought a three-month extension from the Parliamentary committee. The extension expired in November and it is unclear if the ministry asked for another.

On December 13, BJP National General Secretary and central observer for West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya had said that the CAA would be implemented soon in the state. The BJP leader, however, remained silent on the contentious National Register of Citizens.

Two days later, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured people that they need not fear the roll-out of the National Register of Citizens, the amendments to the Citizenship Act or the National Population Register, as all refugee colonies in the state were recognised by the government.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. The act sparked huge protests across the country.

There is apprehension among people that the CAA, followed by the National Register of Citizens, will benefit non-Muslims, while excluded Muslims would have to prove their citizenship. The Centre has, however, repeatedly denied that the CAA and the NRC are linked. About 13 states have opposed the National Population Register process over its links with the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. As first reported by Scroll.in, the NPR is the first step to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India.

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Attack on Nadda convoy: Centre has right to call officers, says Shah

Shah on Sunday also said that the central government had the right to summon West Bengal police officers responsible for providing security to Bharatiya Janata Party chief JP Nadda, reported PTI.

The Centre and the West Bengal government are caught in an escalating row over the attack on Nadda’s convoy. The BJP chief’s convoy, which also included the cars of other BJP leaders, was on its way to Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district to participate in a party workers’ rally on December 10, when miscreants attacked it with stones and sticks. Nadda was also on a two-day visit to West Bengal, campaigning for next year’s Assembly elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party blamed TMC for the attack, a charge Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly denied.

On December 17, the Centre asked the West Bengal government to immediately relieve three Indian Police Service officers for joining a central deputation. These officers were reportedly in charge of security details when the BJP president’s convoy was targeted. However, Banerjee had strongly criticised this move.

On the Centre’s decision to summon the three officers, Shah said on Sunday: “It is according to the federal structure [of the country]. They [Trinamool Congress government] should first go through the rules and then talk to the Centre and the public.”

The Union home minister also reiterated his criticism of the Banerjee-led government, and said that the Trinamool Congress was diverting people’s attentions from failures of the state administration. “People who are in power should ensure that every political party should be able to communicate their message to the people,” he added, according to ANI. “I believe that an attack on the country’s biggest political party’s head is not just an attack on the BJP but an attack on the democratic system in West Bengal.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs also sent two summons to West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Director General of Police Virendra to discuss the law and order situation in the state following the attack. The first summon on December 11 was rejected, but the Mamata Banerjee-led Bengal government agreed to a virtual meeting on December 18.