After the Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said passing the law is not in the domain of a state Assembly.
Speaking to reporters, Prasad said that the law is perfectly legal and constitutional, and also binding on the entire country. He added that the Parliament has powers to pass the law with regard to subjects under the Seventh Schedule and that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should get better legal advice on the issue.
"The law relates to six persecuted communities of three countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan ... This law is binding on the entire country. CAA is not related to any Indian Muslim," said Prasad.
He cited former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who gave citizenship to minorities from Uganda and Sri Lankan Tamils. He queried if it was okay for the Congress, then how it is an issue when Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah have done too.
He said the law does not relate to any Indian citizen or take away citizenship from any Indian, and attacked the Congress for spreading misinformation on the law.
On the National Population Register (NPR), Prasad said it is a census governed by the Census Act and the population data is used for policymaking for Centre and state governments.
"Held a good & effective public meeting at Gandhi Park, Thiruvananthapuram in support of #CitizenshipAmendmentAct. Urged people not to believe in misinformation campaign being run by opposition parties to spread violence. Assured them that this law does not affect any Indian citizen," Prasad later tweeted.
Kerala Assembly passes resolution against CAA
The Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding the scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), amid the countrywide protests against the legislation.
The ruling CPI(M)-LDF and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) supported the resolution, while the BJP's lone MLA and former union minister O Rajagopal's was the only dissenting voice in the one-day special session.
"The world is in astonishment when it read through the intricacies of the CAA, where religion has been the benchmark of this division."
The House adopted the resolution moved by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
On the last day of the year, it was a rare moment when the traditional political rivals, the Left Front and the UDF, joined hands to pass the resolution.
The day's special session had been convened to discuss the CAA.
In the 140-member Kerala Assembly, the BJP has one legislator.
Opening the debate was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who pointed out that the entire country was shocked and protests were everywhere against the CAA.
"The world is in astonishment when it read through the intricacies of the CAA, where religion has been the benchmark of this division. And seeing this, the Indian diaspora is in a state of shock. There will be no detention centres in Kerala. India is known for its secularism and that has come under duress. Under no circumstances can this CAA go forward and hence should be withdrawn," said Vijayan.
Expressing his strong dissent against the resolution taken up by Vijayan, Rajagopal said that what was happening on the floor of the Assembly was unconstitutional.
"How is it possible for this legislature to pass a resolution against a law, that is the CAA that has already become a law, after going through all the procedures. All this is now being created by a party which in the past had divided the country based on religion. So, this is nothing but to score political brownie points and nothing else," said Rajagopal.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala pointed out that the CAA has now become the biggest challenge before the country since Independence.
"India did not surface one fine morning, instead it evolved over years and years of hard work and see what has taken place now. The Constitution is one which was carefully prepared. The Indian Citizenship Act came into effect in 1955 and since then six times it underwent changes, but not once was anything done in the name of religion. Now see, in one stroke everything is in shambles and the country is being sliced and hence this should go," said Chennithala.
Seven-time legislator PC George, who heads Kerala Janapaksham, who briefly hobnobbed with the BJP-led NDA and has since left them, expressed his displeasure in what he termed as "the weak protests by the traditional rival political fronts".
"I would suggest that the protests against the CAA should be stepped up and the need of the hour is about five lakh people should sit-in protest before the Accountant General's office here for 10 days so the world takes notice. Meek and mild protests won't suffice as this is a deadly one and it should be forced to be repealed," said George.
Incidentally, Kerala was one of the first states to organise a protest when the ruling and the opposition joined hands to stage a four-hour protest, early this month to oppose the CAA.