BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav are among the first Opposition leaders to accept Shah's challenge for a public debate on CAA (File Photo)
A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah dared opposition leaders for a public discussion on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav Wednesday accepted his challenge for a debate "at any forum and at any place."
"As far as debate is concerned, finalise the venue. Select your favourite channels and anchors. We are ready to a debate on development," SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said. Those who "understand the soul" of the country are opposed to the amended citizenship law, he added, accusing the BJP of discriminating on the basis of religion.
BSP chief Mayawati had earlier hit out at the centre, and said her party is ready to debate at any platform.
"The government, disturbed by protests against the controversial CAA/NRC/NPR, by the entire country, especially the youth and women, has challenged the Opposition to debate on the matter. The BSP accepts the challenge to debate on it at any forum and at any place," Mayawati tweeted.
आति-विवादित CAA/NRC/NPR के खिलाफ पूरे देश में खासकर युवा व महिलाओं के संगठित होकर संघर्ष व आन्दोलित हो जाने से परेशान केन्द्र सरकार द्वारा लखनऊ की रैली में विपक्ष को इस मुद्दे पर बहस करने की चुनौती को BSP किसी भी मंच पर व कहीं भी स्वीकार करने को तैयार है।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) January 22, 2020
Addressing a rally in Lucknow, Shah had maintained that the government won’t step back on the amended citizenship law, challenging Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati for a discussion on the Act "in a public forum".
Asserting that the law has nothing against the citizens of the country, Shah hit out at the opposition parties for spreading “lies” about the CAA. “There is no provision of taking anyone’s citizenship in CAA. Canards being spread against CAA by Congress, SP, BSP, TMC,” the Home Minister added.
Being dismissive of dissent not sign of strength for govt: Prashant Kishor on Amit Shah’s CAA remark
Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee held a 4-kilometer-long protest march against CAA today in Darjeeling hills, where she accused the Centre of "pushing CAA only in non-BJP ruled states."
Weighing in on the issue, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi asked the Home Minister to discuss the law with him instead of others. Reacting to Shah's challenge, Owaisi said, "I am here.. debate with me.. why (debate) with these people.. 'Daadi wale se karo na' (Debate with a bearded man). We will talk and debate on CAA, NPR and NRC."
Facing criticism over the NPR, the Centre has said that it will sensitise states to the fact that information being sought in the NPR is voluntary. (Read here)
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court said it will not grant any stay on the CAA without hearing the Centre and that it will set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the pleas. The court was hearing over 140 petitions, mostly against the CAA, which was passed in both the Houses of Parliament last month.
Petitioners include Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League, and its MPs, Lok Sabha MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, TMC MP Mahua Moitra, All Assam Students’ Union and Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman.
The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014. It has become controversial largely because it excludes Muslims.