- "If you have guts, come and debate," Amit Shah dared Rahul Gandhi
- "Congress spreading misinformation against the citizenship act," he added
- "The act is not against the minorities," Amit Shah repeated
The Citizenship Amendment Act is not against the minorities and there is no question of its being withdrawn, Union minister Amit Shah reiterated today amid continuing protests against the law that has been perceived by many as "anti-Muslim". Speaking at a rally in Jodhpur, Amit Shah attacked the opposition Congress, a party the BJP has traditionally accused of minority appeasement, and the rest of the opposition parties, accusing them of driving the protests for votebank politics.
"Opposition Mamata Banerjee, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress are opposing the law. They are spreading falsehoods," said Amit Shah, taking the lead in the BJP's big push to dispel what it called "misconceptions" about the law across the country.
"If you have guts, come and debate with me. If not, then am willing to translate it (the law) to Italian so you can read it," he said in a dig at senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
"The Congress is carrying out a misinformation campaign against the Citizen Amendment Act. Youngsters were misled and they were out on streets... No matter how much lies they spread, we will work hard and we will reach out to minorities and youngsters," Mr Shah added.
The Congress in turn hit out at the BJP, with the party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accusing Mr Shah of a "conspiratorial and divisive agenda".
"You have put the entire country in a situation like that in 1947 with your divisive and conspiratorial agenda...You should desist from slapping your conspiratorial and divisive agenda on the country," Mr Surjewala said in a video he posted on Twitter.
Since the citizenship law was passed last month, protests against it have been sweeping the country. In many places, it turned ugly. There have been clashes with the police, arson and vandalism. Twenty-five people have died, many of them in Uttar Pradesh.
Police crackdown on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia after a protest march turned violent, acted as a catalyst.
Overnight students in campuses across the country were up in arms and the matter snowballed further, leading to synchronised protests over 10 states. Nine Chief Ministers refused to implement the law in their states and in Kerala, the ruling party and the opposition came together to pass a resolution against it.
The BJP finally decided on a mass outreach programme that would involve public meetings and door-to door campaign. On Sunday, top BJP leaders, led by Amit Shah, are expected to visit households across the country as part of the exercise to contact three crore families wiin 10 days.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion the test of citizenship for the first time. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring nations - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution.
Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.