Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today termed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as an "attack on the secular and democratic character of India", and said that he will not permit its implementation in the state even if it becomes law. Mamata Banerjee and Amarinder Singh, his counterparts in Bengal and Punjab, have also made similar statements amid a raging debate over the "discriminatory" nature of the bill.
"Kerala has no place for such an unconstitutional law and it will not be implemented in Kerala," Mr Vijayan said on Thursday, a day after the ruling BJP succeeded in passing the bill through the Rajya Sabha amid violent protests in the Northeast.
The bill, which intends to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to obtain Indian citizenship, has been criticised by rights groups and opposition parties of being discriminatory on the basis of religion and violating the constitutional right to equality.
The Kerala Chief Minister, in a statement, claimed that the sole purpose of the bill was to divide people along communal lines. "The Constitution of India guarantees the right to citizenship for all Indians, irrespective of their religion, caste, language, culture gender or profession. This very right is being made void by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. A move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to rejecting the Constitution," he said, adding that the legislation was a "matter of shame" for the country.
The Kerala-based Indian Union Muslim League has already challenged the bill in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which relates to equality, and the Congress plans to follow suit.
"India belongs to Indians of all kinds. Efforts to undermine this fact will only take our country backwards and destroy our hard-fought freedom. We must not let that happen," Mr Vijayan said, adding that the amendment bill "serves the communal policies of the Sangh Parivar and their devious plans to establish a non-secular state".
Muslims account for 20 per cent of Kerala's population of 33 million, and 18 per cent of its population is Christian.
While Amarinder Singh termed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as "constitutional and divisive", Mamata Banerjee said her government will not allow the centre to "throw out a legal citizen of the country or turn the person into a refugee". However, neither of the three Chief Ministers elaborated on how they plan to oppose a law cleared by the parliament.