Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to West Bengal today said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be implemented across the nation once the coronavirus pandemic is firmly under control and ends.
Mr Shah was on a two-day tour of West Bengal, where assembly election will be held early next year. The BJP is looking to unseat Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and defeat her party Trinamool Congress by deploying its "development" agenda and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's all out election-winning assault on the opposition.
"The citizenship law will be implemented and refugees will get citizenship. It depends on the coronavirus pandemic. But it will be done. The law is in place," Mr Shah said today as he prepared to leave the state at the end of his two-day visit.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, for the first time, makes religion the test of Indian citizenship. The government says it will help non-Muslim refugees from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims and violates secular tenets of the Constitution.
Mr Shah in January this year - the CAA was passed by the parliament in December last year - accused the opposition of lying in its criticism of the controversial law, which had triggered deadly protests across the country before they subsided due to the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic in late March.
Mr Shah has maintained that the law only intends to help those who have faced religious persecution in the neighbouring countries. "BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), SP (Sawajwadi Party), Communist, Congress and Mamata Didi are against the CAA because they say minorities will lose their citizenship. Why are they lying? CAA is a law to give citizenship, it is not meant to take anyone's citizenship away," Mr Shah had said at a rally in Bhubaneswar in January.
On preparing for the assembly election in West Bengal, Mr Shah said he could "sense massive public anger" against the government led by Ms Banerjee. "I am in West Bengal since last night and can sense the massive public anger against the Mamata Banerjee government. On the other side, I can sense hope among the people that a change can be ushered in the state only under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Mr Shah told reporters.