Congress leader P Chidambaram had strong words for the ruling BJP this morning after the "unconstitutional" Citizenship (Amendment) Bill cleared the Lok Sabha late Monday evening. Out on bail after spending over two months in Tihar Jail in connection with the INX Media case, he accused the BJP of "trampling over the wishes of the State and the People" and rued the results of the general election earlier this year - in which the BJP won 303 seats to wield an unassailable majority in the Lower House. Mr Chidambaram said defeats such as the one over the CAB were "the price we pay for giving a party a brute majority".
"That is the price we pay for giving a party a brute majority that it uses to trample over the wishes of the States and the People," the former Home and Finance Minister said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, was cleared by the Lok Sabha yesterday after several hours of heated discussions; 311 MPs voted in support of a bill the opposition has repeatedly decried as discriminatory and a law that violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Protests were mounted in the Northeast where political leaders, including MPs allied with the BJP, and civil society members and organisations campaigned against it. An 11-hour shutdown in the region is being observed by an umbrella body of students' organisations, supported by regional political parties.
That is the price we pay for giving a party a brute majority that it uses to trample over the wishes of the States and the People.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) December 10, 2019
The CAB will now be tabled before the Rajya Sabha and the Congress, one of the bill's fiercest critics, could move the Supreme Court if it is passed, party leader Gaurav Gogoi said according to news agency PTI.
Mr Chidambaram referred to that possibility in his tweet and said his fellow parliamentarians were "abdicating responsibilities in favour of lawyers and judges".
"CAB is unconstitutional. Parliament passes a Bill that is patently unconstitutional and the battle ground shifts to the Supreme Court. Elected Parliamentarians are abdicating their responsibilities in favour of lawyers and judges!" he said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, seeks to amend a six-decade-old law to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens. Should it be passed, the CAB will become the first bill under which nationality will be granted on the basis of religion.
Earlier this week more than 1,000 scientists and scholars signed an open statement to express concerns over the CAB. They called the use of religion as a criterion to determine eligibility to apply for Indian citizenship is "deeply troubling".
Mr Chidambaram's criticism of the BJP using its majority to force bills through - the Lok Sabha at least - is an echo of that by Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien who, in an earlier session of parliament, compared the passing of bills to "delivering pizzas".
With input from PTI