The Telangana government on Monday passed a resolution against the Centre’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state’s Legislative Assembly. With this, it joins several other states which have done the same.
Along with urging the Centre to “remove all references to any religion or to any foreign country” in the CAA, the resolution passed by the Assembly also expressed “concern over the proposed implementation of National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) which may result in exclusion of large number of people.”
Speaking after the resolution was introduced, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said, “From the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion in the country regarding the CAA. Many incidents have happened. Even internationally, the issue is being discussed and the world is looking at India.”
“Given the circumstances, secularists and democrats in the country have been making their apprehensions known. There is a need for Telangana to react to this as well. We have a duty to let our stand be known. We have already passed a resolution by the cabinet and we had opposed it in the Parliament. We are on record,” he added.
Pointing out that other states like West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Bihar have passed similar resolutions, KCR said, “Telangana plays an active role in nation building. We contribute a lot in taxes to the Centre. We have a responsibility to the nation as it is a question of our country’s future. We have a very strong reason to oppose the CAA.”
Speaking about slogans being raised by those in favour of the CAA like ‘Goli maaro saalo ko’, KCR said that such acts will not be tolerated by the people of India, as it was against the secular fabric of the country’s Constitution.
“Instead of focusing on farmers issues, unemployment and access to water, if they raise such issues, where will the country go? It is not a Hindu problem or a Muslim problem. It is the country’s problem,” he said, amid applause.
KCR also said that women, marginalised and underprivileged are the ones who would be most affected by this, as it will be difficult for them to prove their citizenship.
“This divisive and narrow politics is not necessary for the nation,” the Chief Minister said, adding, “This (citizenship) question is not easy. It is to decide the foundation on which the country and nation will be based. We have to take it more seriously.”
Speaking about the charge by opposition parties that the ruling TRS and AIMIM were working together, KCR said, “We work together on some issues but doesn’t mean we agree on everything. I had supported abrogation of Article 370 and I still do. We have our own policy.”
The Chief Minister also highlighted earlier attempts by the Centre to determine citizenship in the early 2000s which were later scrapped, as it was found that documentation in rural areas was weak.
“The citizenship question is pertinent. It has to be addressed but it is a time-taking process. There has to be a meeting of all political parties along with experts and everyone in the country has to be consulted,” KCR said.
He added that the founding fathers of the country had established a secular nation, “but the unfortunate thing with the CAA is that it is isolating Muslims. Our constitution doesn’t permit that and it is not with its framework. That is why we are opposing. We urge upon the Centre to review the decision. We are ready to support them as far as the nation is concerned.”
Speaking on the floor of the House, AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi said, “The CAA is not only dividing the country but also weakening the nation. A non-citizen is being made a citizen and a citizen is going to be made a non-citizen of this country.”
“Don’t think that the law is against Muslims or that Muslims are against the law. The CAA is against the poor of this country — Dalits, adivasis, women and even our poor Hindu brothers of India. Don’t see me as a Muslim. I am an Indian who is ready to sacrifice his life for the country,” he added, stating that the country belonged to people of all religions and faiths, and even those who didn’t believe in any religion.
Akbaruddin Owaisi urged the Telangana government to stay the process of NPR, and said that it was considered to be a prelude to the NRC and CAA.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka also said that the party had decided to back the state government’s resolution.
“It is not a section of people or those belonging to one religion who are opposing this. All of us are opposing it. I welcome the resolution, but it is not enough. To bring this to its logical end, NPR should also be stayed in the state,” he said.
MLA Raja Singh from Goshamahal, the lone legislator from BJP in the Assembly, said that the CAA was introduced as neighbouring countries were persecuting minorities.
Citing figures, he showed that the percentage of minorities in Pakistan fell from 23% in 1947 to 3.7% during a recent survey, 22% to 7.8% in Bangladesh and from two lakh people to a few hundreds in Afghanistan.
“Where did these people go? There is a need to discuss this as well. Amit Shah has assured the people that those who have migrated to India while fleeing persecution, this Act, will give them citizenship as they are living as refugees,” Raja Singh said.
“I wish to say on record that the Act has nothing to do with marginalised communities in Telangana and the country, and if anyone is affected by it, I will resign from my post,” he added.
Drama prevailed as Raja Singh’s mic was turned off for exceeding the time limit given to the MLA. However, he continued to create a din in the House even as KCR urged Speaker Srinivas Reddy to put the resolution to a vote.
Following this, the Assembly adopted the resolution with a voice vote and the House was adjourned.
The TRS had voted against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Parliament, and has been a vocal critic of the law since the Bill was passed.
Earlier this month, while speaking in the Assembly, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao came down heavily on the CAA and said that it disrespected the fundamental principle of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality of religion, caste and creed.