Opposition dubs Bill as attempt to ‘wreck the Constitution’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 11, 2019

Congress says the judiciary will strike down an unconstitutional Bill

The tabling of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday witnessed a spirited debate with former Finance Minister P Chidambaram leading the charge to dub it an “insidious” attempt to “wreck the Constitution from within” which will be struck down by the courts.

Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, which has done a U-turn on the Bill after supporting it in the Lok Sabha, said his party’s brand of Hindutva is more authentic than the BJP’s by asserting that “jis class mein baithe ho uske headmaster rah chuke hain (We have led the class of which you are but a mere student).

“What we are doing today is wrecking the Constitution from within. A part of the Constitution is sought to be wrecked and demolished by this insidious bill. Fortunately, we have three organs of the State. The Executive is complicit. The Legislature is being invited to collaborate. Hopefully, the judiciary will strike it down and save the idea of India,” said Chidambaram.

He dared the Government to lay the opinion of the Law Ministry as well as invite the Attorney General to the House to answer basic questions on the motives, language and arbitrariness of the bill.

“Knowing that this (the bill) is unconstitutional I am afraid this Government is ramming through this bill in order to advance its Hindutva agenda. This is a sad day. Thankfully, they’re not amending the Constitution. They’re only making a law and I am absolutely confident, I am absolutely clear in my mind that this law will be struck down,” he said, asking six basic questions related to the Bill.

‘Religious persecution’

“How do you group three countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and leave out the rest? How do you identify only six religious groups, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Jains, Budhists and leave out the others including Ahmedias, Hazars and Rohingiyas? Abrahamic religions are three — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Why have you included Christianity and left the other two? Why have you excluded the Sri Lankan Hindus and Bhutanese Christians? Look at the exclusionary-inclusionary hyphenation – Sri Lanka is excluded, Hindus are included. Bhutan is excluded, Christians are included. This exclusionary-inclusionary hyphenation is beyond common sense and reason. And why only religious persecution? Are people not persecuted for political reasons, on linguistic grounds? Are people not persecuted by unleashing internal wars against them? Why only religious persecution, why not every kind of persecution? Lastly, does or does not the bill violate the three fundamental elements of Article 14,” asked Chidambaram.

The Shiv Sena said the draft law should have been debated on the basis of “humanity not religion”.

The Sena does not need to prove how “staunch Hindu” and “patriotic” the party is, said its MP Sanjay Raut. He mounted a counter-attack on some BJP MPs who have said that those opposing the Bill were “traitors” and “speaking the language of Pakistan”.

“We don’t need any certificate to prove how patriotic we are and how staunch Hindu we are. We are headmaster in a school that you study. Our school headmaster was Bal Thackeray and Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We believe in them,” he added.

Article 370

“This is not the Pakistan assembly. People in India have voted for members sitting in the Treasury as well as Opposition benches,” the Sena MP said.

“If you don’t like Pakistan’s language, there is a majority government which can eliminate Pakistan. We are with you,” he said, adding that the party supported the government in revoking Article 370.

He also said there is protest against the Bill in many parts of the country including Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

Published on December 11, 2019

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