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CAA notification: Oppn calls it attempt to polarise LS polls; BJP says Modi's 'guarantee' fulfilled

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) Opposition parties on Monday slammed the Centre for notifying the rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, alleging the BJP was trying to divide society and polarise the atmosphere ahead of general elections, even as the ruling party hailed it as a historic decision that will fulfil the commitment made by the makers of Constitution.

New Delhi, Mar 11 (PTI) Opposition parties on Monday slammed the Centre for notifying the rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, alleging the BJP was trying to divide society and polarise the atmosphere ahead of general elections, even as the ruling party hailed it as a 'historic' decision that fulfils the promise made by the makers of the Constitution.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that the announcement is yet another attempt to 'manage the headlines' after the Supreme Court's strictures on the electoral bonds issue.

He said it has taken four years and three months for the Narendra Modi government to notify the rules for the law cleared by Parliament in December 2019.

'After seeking nine extensions for the notification of the rules, the timing right before the elections is evidently designed to polarise the elections, especially in West Bengal and Assam,' the Congress leader alleged.

Hitting out at the BJP, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan described the CAA as a law that creates division along communal lines and said that it will not be implemented in the southern state.

'All of Kerala will stand united in opposing this communally divisive law,' Vijayan said in a statement here.

It is a flagrant violation of the Constitution to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who immigrated to India, the CPI(M) leader said, adding, 'Defining Indian citizenship based on religion is unacceptable. It poses an open challenge to humanity, the nation's traditions, and its people.' West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vowed to fiercely oppose the CAA if she found it to be discriminatory against groups of people living in India and if it curtailed their existing citizenship rights in any manner.

At a hurriedly convened press conference in Kolkata minutes before CAA rules were notified, she asked, 'Why do this only days before the Lok Sabha polls are scheduled to be announced?' Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the move and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for this 'humanitarian decision'.

'The decision to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the welfare of the 'Pidit Manavta' (suffering humanity) is historic.

'This has paved the way for a respectable life for minority communities suffering from religious brutality in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,' the BJP leader said in this post on X.

Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government delivers whatever Prime Minister Modi promises.

BJP chief spokesperson Anil Baluni said the government has 'fulfilled its guarantee'. He lauded Modi and Shah for the 'historic' decision.

'With this notification, PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji has delivered on another commitment and realised the promise of the makers of our Constitution to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians living in those countries,' Shah posted on X.

Union Minister Smriti Irani said in a post on X, '11th March 2024: A Historic Day as CAA becomes a Reality with Modi Ki Guarantee!' 'Our government stands firm in its resolve to provide a secure and welcome environment for all persecuted minorities, ensuring their dignity, rights and aspirations are protected,' she added.

A wave of celebration erupted in parts of West Bengal inhabited by the Matua community whose members said it was their 'second independence day'.

Matuas, originally from East Pakistan and headquartered in Thakurnagar, North 24 Parganas, are a weaker section of Hindus who migrated to India during the Partition and after the creation of Bangladesh.

They celebrated the occasion by beating drums and exchanging pleasantries and also expressed their gratitude towards Prime Minister Modi.

The community, with an estimated population of three million in the state, can tilt the scales in favour of a political party in more than 30 assembly seats in Nadia, and North and South 24 Parganas districts bordering Bangladesh.

Strongly opposing the move to implement the CAA ahead of polls, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said people will respond to it in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In a long post in Hindi on X, Kejriwal alleged that the implementation of the CAA is 'dirty politics' of the BJP to make poor people from neighbouring countries its vote bank in India.

Noting that the Modi government has brought CAA ahead of Lok Sabha polls, he said, 'Instead of solving the real issues, they have brought CAA.' The AAP chief said the BJP is saying that minorities from neighbouring countries will be given Indian citizenship. 'Why? To create their vote bank,' asked.

Attacking the Centre, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav termed the move as BJPs' game of distraction.

'The public has now understood the BJP's game of politics of distraction,' Yadav said in a post on X.

In her post on X, BSP chief Mayawati said, 'Instead of implementing the citizenship amendment law before the election, it would have been better to implement it only after clearing doubts, confusion and fears.' AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi dubbed the CAA as divisive and based on 'Godse's thought that wanted to reduce Muslims to second-class citizens'.

'Understand the chronology. First, the election season will come, next will be the CAA rules,' he said.

The rules for implementation of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 were notified on Monday, paving the way for granting citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2014.

Assam's Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi said, 'The process to legitimise 15-20 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus illegally living in Assam has begun. There is no other way but to come out on the street and protest against this unconstitutional act.'' Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 30 indigenous organisations said they will burn copies of the CAA across the state.

The CAA was passed in December 2019 and subsequently got the president's assent but there were protests in several parts of the country against it, with many opposition parties speaking out against the law calling it 'discriminatory'. The law could not come into effect as rules had not been notified till now.

Over 100 people lost their lives during the anti-CAA protests or police action. PTI GDK SUS SSG PNT ABN DG TGB SKC RT

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