Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has voiced concern over the new citizenship law and the government's insistence on it amid spiralling protests. Instead of focusing on Hindus from Pakistan, the government, he said, should "First fix its own country". He also expressed reservations about a resolution passed in any state assembly, saying it is the parliament which needs to reject the law.
Asked whether Delhi would follow Kerala's example in passing a resolution against the law, Mr Kejriwal said, "It does not matter if the bill is rejected or passed in Assembly. It has to be rejected by the entire country and it has to be rejected in Parliament. If I reject the bill in assembly, will it get stalled? The parliament has to reject it.
Referring to the contentious law that has unleashed a storm across the country, he said he did not understand the need for such a law at this time.
"So much love for Pak Hindus and what about Indian Hindus? I don't get this. The economy is down, no homes, no jobs. for our children... and they plan to get 2 crore Pakistani Hindus. What was the need for this law? First fix your own country. Then we will get everyone," he said at a townhall this evening, referring to the law which, in a first, makes religion the test of citizenship.
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.
The BJP started a massive countrywide outreach campaign on Friday to dispel misconceptions about the law. Speaking at a huge meeting in Rajasthan's Jodhpur, Union Minister Amit Shah had reiterated that there is no question of it being withdrawn or repealed.
Mr Kejriwal suggested that the law would hurt both Hindus and Muslims. "This bill will lead to Hindu Muslim both being ousted," he said.
The Chief Minister also ridiculed the Centre's scale-down of the discussion on the National Register of Citizens, suggesting that the time to discuss it was now."Amit Shah says won't talk of NRC now. Kejriwal says - when will he talk about it then?" he said at a townhall held this afternoon.
In this context, he also had an anecdote to tell. "Someone I met in Burari came from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh to Delhi. I asked if he has his birth certificate. He said he was born at home and all that were not there in those times. His parents do not have birth certificates either. So I said 'ab kya karoge (what will you do now?), you will have to leave the country," Mr Kejriwal said.