Congress to oppose Citizenship Amendment Bill in Winter Session.
Guwahati: The Opposition Congress, which came to power in 2011 by promising citizenship to Hindu Bengalis in Assam, has decided to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which the Central government is planning to re-introduce during the Winter Session of Parliament.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh — who was here as part of a six-member Congress team asked by party president Sonia Gandhi to seek feedback from Congress leaders of eight northeastern states on issues such as NRC, CAB and the economy — said that the proposed legislation i.e. CAB, remained a threat even to the states enjoying special provisions under Article 371 of the Constitution.
Mr Ramesh said, “If the CAB becomes legislation, the states enjoying various provisions under Article 371 in the northeast will also be affected. Amit Shah had said that Article 370 was a temporary provision, while Article 371 is not so. This is not the fact. Even Article 371 is temporary in the temporary chapter of the Constitution. There is no guarantee that the CAB will not affect these states in the region, despite Article 371.”
Referring to the remark by Union home minister Amit Shah that the CAB will in no way affect the special provisions enjoyed by northeastern states under Article 371, nor will it be in conflict with existing laws pertaining to safeguarding the identities, culture and customs of the indigenous people in the region, Mr Ramesh reiterated that the Congress will consistently oppose the CAB in parliament and outside on the “principled ground” that it is “anti-secular, against the preamble of our Constitution and in violation of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Pointing out the historical background of the NRC, which was first prepared during the Congress regime in 1951, Mr Ramesh said, “The Congress is the architect of the NRC, but the BJP is using it as a tool to polarise people in the country on religious lines.”
“The fact is that the first Congress created NRC way back in 1951, when the first NRC in the country was carried out in Assam. Then it finds mention in the Assam Accord of 1985 signed in the presence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 2005, the tripartite meeting with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave the nod to update the NRC. In 2013, NRC works started under the monitoring of the Supreme Court,” Mr Ramesh said while regretting that that Congress wanted NRC to be a list of bonafide citizens, but the BJP had reduced it to rhetoric.