Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday demanded that the centre withdraw the amended citizenship law to maintain peace and harmony in the country. He made a surprise appearance during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA in Jaipur, at a site that’s being billed as Rajasthan’s “Shaheen Bagh”, after the locality in south Delhi where people have dug in for two months in protest against the CAA.
“The NDA government should reconsider the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which is against the spirit of the Constitution, and should come forward to withdraw it so that peace and harmony can be maintained,” Mr Gehlot said at a protest against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Jaipur.
Mr Gehlot said the Congress and the state government were with them and if needed, he would be the first to go to a detention centre. The Chief Minister said information on birthplace of parents was being sought for the National Population Register (NPR).
“If I am not able to furnish the details, I too would be asked to live in a detention centre. I am not aware of the birthplace of my parents. You stay assured, if such situation comes then I would be the first to go there,” Mr Gehlot said, following which the crowd clapped in appreciation.
The Chief Minister said the BJP government in Assam has refused to implement the NRC.
“It is the right of a government to make a law but a government should rule as per the sentiments of the people. Like Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, protests are being held at many places across the country, including Rajasthan. The government should understand public sentiments,” he said.
Mr Gehlot said several chief ministers were against the CAA. “We want the centre to reconsider its decision,” he added.
Home Minister Amit Shah has said there is no discussion on a nationwide NRC right now. He made the comment in December after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to contradict him on the controversial subject at the core of protests across the nation.
“There is no need to debate this (pan-India NRC) as there is no discussion on it right now, PM Modi was right, there is no discussion on it yet either in the Cabinet or Parliament,” Mr Shah had said.
The Home Minister’s clarification came after days of protests across the country against the CAA and the NRC. The NRC, meant to target illegal migrants, was carried out in Assam earlier this year and left out 19 lakh people. Many of them are now in detention centres. The opposition alleges that along with the new citizenship law, NRC can be used to target Muslims.
Before the Delhi election, PM Modi had said at a rally that there was no talk of a nationwide rollout of the NRC. “I want to tell the 130 crore citizens of India that since my government has come to power, since 2014, there has been no discussion on NRC anywhere. Only after the Supreme Court’s order, this exercise was done for Assam,” said the PM.
The comment by PM Modi was instantly compared with Mr Shah’s multiple assertions in parliament and outside about NRC being applied to the “whole country”. Even on November 20 last year, Mr Shah had said in parliament: “NRC will happen in the entire country and at that time this will be implemented in Assam as well. And I once again want to make it clear that people of any religion do not need to be scared.”
With inputs from PTI