(From left) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader P Chidambaram. (Photos: File)
The Lok Sabha, Tuesday midnight, passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with 311 - 80 voting in favour. Several political leaders spoke in favour of the bill while some spoke against it. BJP leaders and many NDA alliance partners extended their support, while opposition party leaders and some others like JD(U) national president Prashant Kishor and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal criticised the stand of BJP-led central government to "discriminate the right of citizenship on the basis of religion".
Here's how political leaders reacted
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister: Delighted that the Lok Sabha has passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a rich and extensive debate... This Bill is in line with India’s centuries-old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values.
Amit Shah, Home Minister: It is well known that those minorities who chose to make Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan their home had to constantly live in the fear of extinction. This amended legislation by Modi govt will allow India to extend them dignity and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister: The Bill is in the national interest. In Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, there was religious oppression due to which people took refuge in India. Now, the Bill seeks to give them citizenship.
Rahul Gandhi, Congress: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation.
P Chidambaram, Congress: CAB is unconstitutional. Parliament passes a Bill that is patently unconstitutional and the battleground shifts to the Supreme Court. Elected Parliamentarians are abdicating their responsibilities in favour of lawyers and judges!
Shashi Tharoor, Congress: The passage of this Bill will mark the definitive victory of Jinnah’s thinking over Mahatma Gandhi’s. How ironic that it should be the stridently chauvinistic BJP that ensures the final vindication of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Priyanka Gandhi, Congress: Last night at midnight, India’s tryst with bigotry and narrow-minded exclusion was confirmed as the CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha. Our forefathers gave their lifeblood for our freedom. In that freedom, is enshrined the right to equality, and the right to freedom of religion... We will fight against this government’s agenda to systematically destroy our constitution and undo the fundamental premise on which our country was built with all our might.
Manish Tewari, Congress: The ruling side knows why this legislation is being brought. We also know why they have come up with this legislation; the people also know… Today you are going to commit a big mistake. If you cannot discriminate among citizens, can you discriminate in giving citizenship?
Mamata Banerjee, AITC: It’s a divisive Bill and should be opposed at any cost. In a secular country like India, citizenship can never be accorded on the basis of religion.
Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM: Today you divide the nation in the name of religion; tomorrow it will be on language, (and) all this in the name of (Sardar) Patel. This is a communal agenda, against the Constitution. I am sure this will not stand in the Supreme Court.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD: We are happy that finally those people who have been there for 30 years can become citizens... We must not forget that India is secular country... Our party always believed that minorities should be protected. We have to preserve our secular credentials. This Bill affects the minority community. Why don’t we add Muslims?”
Prashant Kishor, JD(U): Disappointed to see JDU supporting CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It’s incongruous with the party’s constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual leader: I request the Government of India to consider giving citizenship to more than one lakh Tamil Sri Lankans who are living in this country as refugees for the last 35 years. Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M): By doing this, they want to sharpen communal polarisation. They want to divide the people of India and convert our secular democratic republic into a Hindutva Rashtra.
Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress: It's an attack on soul of India. 72 years earlier, India was partitioned by the British, Savarkar's and Jinnah's sinister thought and approach. Descendants of the philosophy seek to partition our foundational values once again.
Bhaichung Bhutia, Hamro Sikkim Party: We are deeply disappointed with the CAB. The Bill has not excluded Sikkim compared to other North-East states like Nagaland, Meghalaya and a few others. This Bill is surely a way of diluting Article 371F in long run.
Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra CM: We have asked many questions. Those questions we thought would be answered, ranging from national security to the rights of locals in various states of India. If these queries are not answered, we won’t be supporting the CAB in the Rajya Sabha. Every party supporting or opposing it is asking for clarity in the national interest. Clarity must be ensured.