In a rare act of defiance, the Kerala state assembly in India overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday opposing a new citizenship law and demanding its withdrawal to quell protests.
Calling the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) illegal and unconstitutional, legislators cutting across party lines passed the resolution by 140 to 1.
The move may embolden other states to adopt similar resolution, fuel fear among Muslims about losing their citizenship and instigate more violence.
The resolution against CAA was tabled in the Kerala assembly by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, above, who had taken oath of office to uphold the country’s Constitution.
The CAA was passed by Parliament after ensuring that all democratic and constitutional norms were followed. It was finally signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Despite that, legislators of Vijayan’s Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress and the Muslim League called the law unconstitutional.
BJP’s vetern leader O Rajagopal, the lone legislator who voted against the resolution, was shouted down when he tried to speak.
The Kerala template for unrest and protests provided by Vijayan was wholeheartedly welcomed by MK Stalin, leader of the Dravidian party DMK, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Stalin wants his political rival Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami of AIADMK to follow the Kerala example.
Palaniswami is unlikely to give heed to Stalin’s advice as AIADMK had voted for CAA in Parliament and it is part of the BJP-led government.
The jubilation of communist and Congress leaders over the passing of the anti-CAA resolution and its impact was short-lived.
BJP’s Upper House (Rajya Sabha) MP GVL Narasimha Rao petitioned its chairman Venkaiah Naidu demanding a privilege motion against Vijayan over the anti-CAA resolution which, he alleged, sent confusing signals about the Constitution.
Rao, who is a member of the privilege committee, wants the panel to discuss the matter on Jan 3.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed the Kerala resolution, saying that no state legislature has the power to pass any law related to citizenship.
The resolution is seen as anarchist questioning the unitary nature of the government and its constitution.
From the political angle, it is seen as an exercise by the CPM and Congress to appease more Muslim voters while instilling in them fear and instigating them to stage street protests.
The hatred by these parties for BJP and its leaders Narendra Modi and Amit Shah was evident in the speeches by legislators while welcoming the resolution in the House.