Press Trust of India

Citizenship Bill: Cong slams govt, says it is attack on Constitution and idea of India

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New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday slammed the government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with several leaders, including former party chief Rahul Gandhi, describing the proposed legislation as antithetical to the Constitution and the idea of India.

Anyone who supports it is attempting to destroy the foundation of the country, Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter a day after the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it. The bill will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha for its nod on Wednesday.

He termed the citizenship bill an “attack on the Indian Constitution”.

Echoing her brother, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said “India’s tryst with bigotry and narrow-minded exclusion” was confirmed with the bill being passed in the Lok Sabha at midnight on Monday.

The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution in those countries.

“Last night at midnight, India’s tryst with bigotry and narrow minded exclusion was confirmed as the CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha. Our forefathers gave their lifeblood for our freedom,” she said in a tweet, recalling her great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech at the midnight of August 14-15, 1947, when India rang in its Independence.

In that hard-fought freedom is enshrined the right to equality and the right to freedom of religion, Priyanka Gandhi said.

“Our Constitution, our citizenship, our dreams of a strong and unified India belong to all of us,” she said in another tweet.

“We will fight against this government’s agenda to systematically destroy our Constitution and undo the fundamental premise on which our country was built with all our might,” the Congress general secretary said.

“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” Nehru had said in the opening lines of a speech believed to be among the greatest in the 20th century.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the bill was anathema to India’s constitutional democracy.

“It’s an attack on soul of India. 72 years earlier, India was partitioned by the British, Savarkar’s and Jinnah’s sinister thought and approach. Descendants of the philosophy seek to partition our foundational values once again,” he said on Twitter.

In his view, Home Minister Amit Shah had not only failed the Constitution but also a history test.

“Savarakar & Jinnah were one in propounding two Nation theory’ then…

descendants continue to bleed India’s soul today,” he tweeted.

His party colleague, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal, said the bill was “discriminatory and and divisive”.

“CAB is divisive, discriminatory & against the fundamental premises of our Constitution, above all, it’s an all-out assault on the very idea of India. The BJP is doing what its ideological forefathers have always done – divide & rule,” he tweeted.

Congress leader and spokesperson Manish Tewari added that the Congress had no problems with giving shelter to those being discriminated against in the neighbouring countries, but demands a comprehensive and inclusive refugee law.

He also asked the government to come clean on its border policy.

“In a country where the apex court has maintained that secularism forms the basis of our Constitution, in such a country to offer citizenship on the basis of religion is a fraud on the Constitution. This is our basic opposition to the bill,” he said.

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