On the last day of the year, it was a rare moment when the traditional political rivals, the CPI-M led Left Front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) joined hands to pass a resolution in the Kerala Assembly seeking the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), while the lone dissent came from the BJP legislator O. Rajagopal.
The day’s special session had been convened to discuss the CAA. In the 140-member Kerala Assembly, the BJP has one legislator. Opening the debate was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who pointed out that the entire country was shocked and protests were every where against the CAA.
“The world is in astonishment when it read through the intricacies of the CAA, where religion has been the benchmark of this division. And seeing this, the Indian diaspora is in a state of shock. There will be no detention centres in Kerala. India is known for its secularism and that has come under duress. Under no circumstances can this CAA go forward and hence should be withdrawn,” said Vijayan.
Expressing his strong dissent against the resolution taken up by Vijayan, Rajagopal said that what was happening on the floor of the Assembly was unconstitutional.
“How is it possible for this legislature to pass a resolution against a law, that is the CAA that has already become a law, after going through all the procedures. All this is now being created by a party which in the past had divided the country based on religion. So, this is nothing but to score political brownie points and nothing else,” said Rajagopal.
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala pointed out that the CAA has now become the biggest challenge before the country since Independence.
“India did not surface one fine morning, instead it evolved over years and years of hard work and see what has taken place now. The Constitution is one which was carefully prepared. The Indian Citizenship Act came into effect in 1955 and since then six times it underwent changes, but not once was anything done in the name of religion. Now see, in one stroke everything is in shambles and the country is being sliced and hence this should go,” said Chennithala.
Seven time legislator P.C. George, who heads Kerala Janapaksham, who briefly hobnobbed with the BJP-led NDA and has since left them, expressed his displeasure in what he termed as “the weak protests by the traditional rival political fronts”.
“I would suggest that the protests against the CAA should be stepped up and the need of the hour is about five lakh people should sit in protest before the Accountant General’s office here for 10 days so the world takes notice. Meek and mild protests won’t suffice as this is a deadly one and it should be forced to be repealed,” said George.
Incidentally, Kerala was one of the first state to organise a protest when the ruling and the opposition joined hands to stage a four-hour protest, early this month to oppose the CAA.