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All Congress states may pass resolutions against CAA | India News

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NEW DELHI: Signalling a step up in the political battle over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and to erase confusion over the comments of senior functionaries that not implementing the law might be “unconstitutional”, Congress on Sunday said all states where it is in office should follow the example of the party government in Punjab in passing anti-CAA resolution in their respective assemblies.

The message was beamed by senior Congress functionary Ahmed Patel, who said, “After Punjab, we are thinking about bringing a resolution against the CAA in states like Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh. It would be a clear message to the central government to reconsider the Act.”

The statement came in the backdrop of comments by senior functionaries Kapil Sibal and Jairam Ramesh, who expressed doubts over the ability of states not to implement the CAA.

A day earlier, Kapil Sibal had said, “If the CAA is passed, no state can say ‘I will not implement it’. It is not possible and is unconstitutional. You can oppose it, you can pass a resolution in the assembly and ask the central government to withdraw it. But constitutionally, saying that I won’t implement it is going to be problematic and going to create more difficulties.”

On Sunday, as the party clarified matters, Sibal said on Twitter that he believed CAA was “unconstitutional” and every state assembly had the constitutional right to pass a resolution and seek its withdrawal. But he did add, “When and if the law is declared to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, then it will be problematic to oppose it… The fight must go on.”

In an interaction with a daily, Jairam wondered if the CAA issue might play to BJP’s benefit and said, “I think one should recognise that there is a space for spontaneous protests by ordinary citizens, students and political parties but on an issue like CAA, there is a dangerous potential for it to be exploited by Modi and Amit Shah — to convert a genuine issue into an issue of communal polarisation.”

He also pointed out that he was not sure state governments saying they would not implement CAA would stand judicial scrutiny. “Whether it will stand the test of judicial scrutiny, I am not 100% sure,” he added.

Though Congress strongly emphasised its opposition to the CAA and called for resolutions, it stopped short of directing its governments to challenge the Act in the SC, possibly because of uncertainty of the outcome.

The party has taken a strong stand against the CAA and the National Population Register (NPR) as well, linking NPR with the National Register of Citizens. While the strategy plays to wooing Muslims and tapping a wider “liberal” sentiment, there is concern over whether it misses a less vocal Hindu consolidation or sympathy for CAA’s political goals.

On Sunday, Congress fielded another legal eagle Abhishek Singhvi, who said states challenging the CAA could not be expected to implement a law they have challenged, until the matter was settled by the court. “All that the states have said is they will not implement the law until their challenge of the legislation is settled by the apex court one way or another. It is wrong for BJP to blow this up as a case of non-cooperation or disobedience by the states,” Singhvi said, defending the party’s stand but keeping the tempo down.

Commenting on Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan summoning the chief secretary over the state government moving the SC against CAA, Singhvi said, “The governor, who occupies a constitutional post, questioning the government is as odd as it would be if the President of India questioned a decision taken by the PM of India and his government. It should be clear who is right or wrong.”

So far, the Kerala and Punjab assemblies have passed resolutions against the controversial law, while Kerala has also moved the SC challenging the legislation that seeks to give citizenship to persecuted individuals from three countries on the basis of their religion.

Congress’s communications chief Randeep Surjewala called the CAA an “attack” on the Constitution, claiming the people’s movement will continue “courageously and fearlessly”. “PM Modi and home minister Amit Shah have become living symbols of sectarianism, bigotry and fanaticism, using the instrument of state to attack India’s ethos and its Constitution,” he said, invoking the Constitution as India’s biggest ‘dharma’ — of ‘raaj’, ‘neeti’ and ‘karma’.

Surjewala’s comments were sharper, reflecting the tenor the party has been adopting and articulated by functionaries like former finance minister P Chidambaram.

Earlier this month, Congress had, during a meeting of its working committee, directed Congress-governed states to oppose implementation of NRC and NPR. In a Congress-led meeting of 20 opposition parties, they had also decided, unanimously, to scale up protests against CAA-NRC-NPR across the country.

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