The Gujarat Legislative Assembly on Friday passed a resolution congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for securing the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The resolution, which was opposed by Congress MLAs, claimed that persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were not offered Indian citizenship by earlier governments because of their "policy of appeasement".
Last month, the Legislative Assembly of Kerala, where a CPI(M)-led LDF government is in power, had passed a resolution demanding scrapping of the controversial Act.
The CAA promises Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
During a heated discussion on the resolution, Congress MLA from Jamalpur-Khadia, Imran Khedawala, displayed a poster against CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) written in his own blood.
"You are not in Pakistan," Speaker Rajendra Trivedi told him while asking him to maintain decorum. His remark evoked a sharp response from other Congress MLAs.
The House was adjourned for fifteen minutes following an argument when more opposition MLAs started shouting slogans and displayed posters saying "Boycott CAA/NCR/NPR".
The resolution, moved by Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have shown far-sightedness by taking a bold and historic decision to amend the Citizenship Act by which Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis of three neighbouring countries will be able to get Indian citizenship.
"Policy of appeasement of earlier governments had kept such people devoid of citizenship and other rights," it added. The "nationalist government of the BJP" brought in the new law to help these persecuted minorities, it said.
Some "anti-nationals" and political parties opposing it were silent on the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan, and spreading rumours that the CAA will take away the citizenship of the members of the minority community in India, the resolution said.
Jadeja told the House that the Act will not take away anyone's citizenship. "CAA is only about granting citizenship to the religious minorities of three countries. It does not change citizenship status of Indian Muslims," he said.
"I want to assure that no Indian will lose citizenship. This act is not at all unconstitutional. It will alleviate the pain of persecuted minorities," he added.
Even Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh were of the opinion that persecuted minorities should be granted citizenship, Jadeja claimed.
"People are being misled intentionally. Even Congress has joined hands with "Tukde Tukde gang".
Congress was concerned about Rohingya Muslims. But why you never thought of wiping the tears of migrant Hindus all these years?" he asked.
The population of Hindus dwindled drastically in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh due to persecution, the minister claimed.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani sought to link the CAA with the NRC and National Population Register (NPR). "CAA will destroy the secular spirit of our Constitution. CAA is linked with NRC and NPR. People are afraid that they may lose their citizenship," said Dhanani.
"This act will divide the nation. For granting citizenship to a few foreigners, you want to strip crores of our own people of citizenship," the Congress leader said.
Congress MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh said Muslims were more worried about the NCR. He asked Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to give assurance that the NCR will not be implemented in Gujarat.
Vijay Rupani declined, saying the states do not have any say in Central subjects. "NRC is meant to identify illegal immigrants. It's a central subject," he added.
Referring to the fact that Vijay Rupani was born in Myanmar, state Congress chief Amit Chavda said he could not have become chief minister if Congress governments had brought in such an amendment.
Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani came near the Well of the House and sought an explanation from the government on the issue.
When warned by the Speaker, he left the House in anger after tearing apart a copy of the CAA.
Vijay Rupani said he was very much an Indian by birth.
"When I was born in Myanmar, my parents were holding Indian passport. I am an Indian since my birth. My name was added in the passport as an Indian. We came back to India when I was around two and half years old," he said.
The discussion went on for around two hours before the resolution was passed with a majority vote.