Lucknow: Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could continue doing so as the government would not withdraw the contentious legislation.
Addressing a rally in Lucknow as part of the government’s efforts to reach out amid opposition over CAA, Shah said, “I want to say it again that the government is not going back on the CAA. Those who want to protest may continue doing so.”
Attacking the opposition for "misleading" people on the legislation, Shah said there is no provision in the amended law for taking away anyone's citizenship. "A canard is being spread against the CAA by the Congress, SP, BSP, and Trinamool Congress," he said, adding that the CAA is a law to grant citizenship.
"I want to say that irrespective of the protests it will not be withdrawn," he added.
Shah challenged Congress opposition leaders to hold a discussion with him on the CAA at a public forum. He named Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee while throwing the challenge.
"If any clause of the CAA takes away the citizenship of anyone, including Muslims, they can tell me. The agitations and sit-ins, which are being organised in the country against it, are wrong," he said.
"The Congress has become blind due to vote bank politics," he said, and also blamed the party for Partition.
"Rahul baba (Gandhi), open your ears and listen carefully. Because of the sins of your party in 1947, the country's partition on religious basis was accepted. Mentioning figures, he said the proportion of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains in Pakistan and Bangladesh dropped drastically after Partition,” said Shah.
"Where have they gone? They were either killed, converted or came to India as refugees. These blind people cannot see that atrocities were committed on crores of people," he said.
Shah asked opposition parties where they were when crores of people were killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh on the basis of religion. He said five lakh Pandits were displaced from Kashmir, but these parties did not utter a word.
“Now, because of PM Modi, a new chapter has begun in the lives of these people," he said.
Shah referred to the recent Supreme Court verdict that allows the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed Ayodhya site. The crowd cheered when he said the construction will begin in three months.
Accusing the opposition of speaking the language of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the BJP leader said, "I don't know what relation they have with Khan."
Shah claimed that Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi advocated citizenship to Hindus from Pakistan but their Congress party never implemented the suggestion.
On Banerjee, he charged, "She was demanding citizenship for Dalit Bengalis. Now when the citizenship is being given to them, she has problems."
Shah claimed that during the Rajasthan assembly elections, the Congress had advocated citizenship to Hindus from Pakistan.
The CAA allows easier citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 after facing religious persecution. Muslim migrants don't figure on this list.
(With inputs from PTI)