Congress mulls legal and other battles
The Congress has decided to challenge the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in the Supreme Court as the leadership firmly believes that it is not only unconstitutional but also morally indefensible.
It is rare for a political party to directly fight the government in the court but the entire leadership is determined to do whatever is possible to avert the the social strife that the CAB, combined with the NRC (National Register of Citizens), could trigger.
Congress communication chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted on Thursday: “Break up India? Break up constitutional democracy? Break up India’s soul? We will not let it happen ‘Mr Divider in chief’. Be rest assured!”
Although no formal announcement was made on the decision to move the Supreme Court, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told The Telegraph: “This legislation is highly suspect in terms of constitutionality — be it Articles 14, 21, 25 or the general principle of law. It is otherwise morally indefensible. Such a move by the government deserves to be challenged. There is no doubt we will be challenging it in court in the near future. Date and time cannot be specified at this stage.”
Kapil Sibal, another Congress leader and senior lawyer, told a news channel that he believed the Congress should approach the Supreme Court. “If the home minister (Amit Shah) says the amendment is valid, that does not mean it is valid. Thank God he is not a judge,” he said.
Sibal dismissed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurances to the Northeast and the minorities, contending that he gave so many assurances on demonetisation but look at what happened to the economy.
Senior leader Anand Sharma, too, told this newspaper: “There is absolutely no doubt that the bill was brought with political intentions. Modi desperately needs to divert attention from the alarming governance failures. They will create fear in society and disrupt this normal discourse for the next four years with this divisive ploy. While the Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of the act, the government should put it on hold, given the violent eruption in the Northeast.”
Sharma added: “This has created widespread fear in the society. The economy has collapsed and this level of social strife cannot create a conducive atmosphere for business. The government must not create newer problems in the country to hide its inefficiency and failures. The Congress will mobilise public opinion and do whatever is possible to save the country from this ideological assault.”
Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who was in Delhi on Thursday, expressed grave concern over the law and order situation in the Northeast and pointed to the gross mismanagement of the sensitive citizenship issue.
All eyes are now fixed on a Congress rally on the Ramlila grounds on Saturday where the future course of political action is expected be announced.
Priyanka Gandhi dropped hints of an impending struggle, tweeting: “The BJP is bringing a divisive bill that injures the soul of Constitution…. The Congress will fight against the BJP’s destructive intentions with all its might.”
Sonia Gandhi had set the tone soon after the bill cleared the Rajya Sabha hurdle on Wednesday night, issuing a strong statement.
She said: “The CAB is not just an affront to the eternal principles of equality and religious non-discrimination that have been enshrined in our Constitution, but represents a rejection of an India that would be a free nation for all her people, irrespective of religion, region, caste, creed, language or ethnicity. In its design its grave implications, this flawed legislation is antithetical to the spirit of the freedom movement and violative of the soul of our nation.”