Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Monday called for unity in opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, saying "if there is no unity, protests won't work". The comment came on a day when several big regional parties skipped a meeting of the opposition to discuss the law, the National Register of Citizens and the protests by students happening in several parts of the country.
"For any kind of protest, opposition unity is important. Then protests become easier. Unity is important if the protest is for a proper cause," Amartya Sen, 86, told journalists.
"If there is no unity, protests won't work. For protests to take place, unity is necessary. But I don't believe that people should stop protesting due to lack of unity. That is not desirable," the Nobel winner said when reporters asked him about the opposition meeting on Monday.
"Unity is important if the protest is for a proper cause. But if unity is not there, it doesn't mean that we will stop protesting," he said at an event in Kolkata.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor supported Mr Sen's comment.
"Amartyaji is right. The problem is that the Opposition parties are agreed on national issues, but divided in their various states. This is why it is difficult to assemble all of them on a common platform or front; they tend to put their local interests first. So BJP wins w/ 37%," he tweeted.
Amartyaji is right. The problem is that the Opposition parties are agreed on national issues, but divided in their various states. This is why it is difficult to assemble all of them on a common platform or front; they tend to put their local interests first. So BJP wins w/ 37%. https://t.co/94JUCfTBNY— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 13, 2020
Mr Sen had earlier said the amended law violates the provision of the Constitution.
In a big blow to opposition unity, six major regional parties - including the Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Shiv Sena, DMK and the Samajwadi Party - skipped the meet on Monday. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party said it was not even invited for the meeting.
In the meeting, attended by 20 parties, it was decided that all chief ministers who refuse to implement the National Register of Citizens in their states must suspend the process of National Population Register, which would be the foundation of the citizens' list.
Nationwide protests against the CAA and NRC have been going on in several parts of the country. The CAA says non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Muslim-dominated neighbours Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can become Indian citizens easily if they entered the country before 2015. It is the first law to make religion a criterion for citizenship. Critics fear the citizenship law, along with the NRC, will be used to target Muslims.