Kerala today became the first state to pass a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act amid widespread protests across the country. The resolution, which was moved by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and asks the centre to revoke the new citizenship law, was supported by leaders across party lines except the lone BJP MLA - O Rajagopal. Chief Ministers of several non-BJP ruled states including Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, had previously voiced their opposition to the law. However, Kerala is now the first state to go down the legislature route to register its opposition.
Moving the resolution, Mr Vijayan said there have been massive protests against the law from all sections of people, including students. "Our Constitution is a milestone in the fight towards citizen rights and a society based on equality. Also our constitution is based on democracy, secularism, equality and scientific temper. This Act subverts the very Constitution," he said.
No work in relation to the detention centres will be undertaken in the state, he added.
Supporting the resolution, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said, "This is a draconian law and has to be opposed tooth and nail. It will divide India communally. When the Citizenship Act was passed in 1955, it followed all international conventions. The present central government has not followed the international conventions."
The joint resolution comes just weeks after the ruling CPM-led LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF took out an unprecedented joint protest. The December 16 Satyagraha led by the Chief Minister and the opposition leader was followed by an all-party meet last Sunday.
DMK chief MK Stalin has welcomed Kerala's move to pass the resolution. "People want every state assembly to do this to protect the basic tenets of Constitution," he said today, urging the AIADMK-led government in Tamil Nadu to follow the neighboring state.
Kerala has already put on hold all administrative activities for the National Population Register (NPR) considering the "apprehensions" of the public that it would lead to National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked the Kerala government today and said: "Chief Minister should take better legal counsel. Congress and other leaders have been deliberately spreading misinformation about the law."
Massive protests have swept India since the amended Citizenship Act cleared parliament earlier this month. The government says the law will provide citizenship to persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Critics, however, say admitting illegal migrants as citizens on the basis of religion violates the fundamental rights to life and equality.