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Kerala Assembly unites against CAA

The Left government asked the Centre to take into account the concerns of the majority of the people across the country

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 1.01.20, 2:16 AM
  • Updated 1.01.20, 2:16 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Moving the resolution, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the CAA contradicted the secular character of the Constitution File picture

The Kerala Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, with all but the lone BJP legislator voting in favour of scrapping the law.

In the two-page resolution, the first such document to be passed by any state on the CAA, the Left government in Kerala requested the Centre to repeal the CAA by taking into account the concerns of the majority of the people across the country.

Kerala Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan on Tuesday convened a special two-hour session on the CAA, which seeks to fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Barring BJP member and former Union minister O. Rajagopal, the House unanimously adopted the resolution.

Moving the resolution, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the CAA contradicted the secular character of the Constitution and insisted that neither the National Register of Citizens nor the National Population Register would be allowed in Kerala.

“The CAA has triggered protests across the country, with people from all walks of life including university students, social activists and government employees coming forward to oppose the act. This amendment based on religious discrimination has presented a wrong picture about our country across the world,” Vijayan said.

“We have always been proud of our unity in diversity that stems from secularism and equality. That we have been able to remain united as one nation and one people are because of these two features. But we should remember that anything that harms the basic structure of our Constitution would weaken the nation itself,” the chief minister said.

When CPM chief Sitaram Yechury congratulated the people and elected representatives of Kerala for “showing the way”, Trinamul MP and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee reminded him on social media that the Bengal Assembly had passed a resolution against the proposed countrywide NRC and the state government had stayed the National Population Register drive in the state.

In his reply to the debate in the Kerala Assembly, Vijayan drew attention to recent amendments and judgments that have gone against Muslims.

“Every amendment that has happened of late have taken the country to a particular direction,” he said, referring to the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the CAA and the Supreme Court judgments on the Ayodhya land dispute and instant triple talaq.

“Divorces are there in every community and that should be handled as a civil case. But triple talaq, they made it into a criminal offence. That is a discriminatory move against one community,” Vijayan said.

“The ideological leader of today’s government, the RSS, has already decided who are the internal enemies. As part of that, there have been continuous moves against the Muslim community,” the chief minister said.

The leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress, voiced similar views on the CAA and supported the chief minister’s motion. The Congress has joined Kerala arch-rival CPM in holding protests against the CAA-NRC.

“The main complaint against the CAA is that it negates the basic structure of our Constitution. But the CAA cannot be seen in isolation as it needs to be clubbed with the NRC and the NPR. Their (the BJP’s) target is to convert India into a theocratic State,” Chennithala said.

He asked if the Prime Minister alone could implement the NPR across India without the help of state governments. “He cannot do anything without the help of government officials,” Chennithala said.

The Congress leader urged the Kerala government not to do anything to help the Centre’s plan to segregate citizens based on their religion.

“Once they implement the NRC, they will exclude a lot of people. Can a democratic nation agree to this kind of blatant discrimination?”

M.K. Muneer from the Indian Union Muslim League accused the Centre of destroying the Constitution.

“Modi and (Union home minister Amit) Shah are trying to destroy the Constitution. Article 14 (equality) is the core of the Constitution. Tweaking it is as good as destroying the Constitution itself,” Muneer said.

He refused to submit documents even if the Centre succeeds in implementing the CAA and the NRC.

“When my father died, it was then chief minister K. Karunakaran who laid our national flag on his body. I am a son of that kind of father,” he reminded the BJP.

Muneer warned that the BJP would eventually target different segments of the society with its “draconian” laws. “Today it is the Muslims, tomorrow it could be Dalits, Christians, other minorities, transgender people, and then the Nair and Ezhava communities,” he said.

The Nairs and the Ezhavas are two non-Brahmin communities that dominate the Kerala political scene.