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Win for narrow-minded, bigoted forces: Sonia Gandhi on Citizenship Bill


New Delhi, Dec 11: The Congress on Wednesday severely criticised the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by Parliament with party president Sonia Gandhi saying it marks a "dark day" in the constitutional history of India and is a "victory of narrow minded and bigoted forces" over the country's pluralism.

Sonia Gandhi

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Lok Sabha cleared the Bill on Monday. Several senior Congress leaders indicated that the party may move court against the Bill with Abhishek Singhvi saying that the legislation will be legally challenged in the near future as it is "highly suspect" in terms of constitutionality.

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    Hitting out at Home Minister Amit Shah over his remarks in support of the Bill, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram told reporters, "The Home Minister says 130 crore people are supporting us, obviously he does not count Assam, Northeast and all other protesters as part of the 130 crore."

    "No one in the government would take responsibility for the content of the CAB or its constitutionality. The intent of the Bill is to tell the Muslims 'you are not equal human beings with equal rights'," Chidambaram said on Twitter.

    In a strongly-worded statement issued immediately after the bill was passed, Gandhi said the bill is not just an affront to the eternal principles of equality and religious non-discrimination that have been enshrined in the Constitution, but represents a rejection of an India that would be a free nation for all her people, irrespective of religion, region, caste, creed, language or ethnicity.

    "Today marks a dark day in the constitutional history of India. The passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill marks the victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces over India's pluralism," she said.

    Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that for some the dark night never ends, while the government is saying there will be a new dawn.

    "They had made the same remarks at the time of demonetisation and the results are there. They had made such remarks at the time of GST as well," Sibal told reporters.

    In her remarks, the Congress president said the Bill fundamentally challenges the idea of India that "the our forefathers fought for and, in its place, creates a disturbed, distorted and divided India where religion will become a determinant of nationhood".

    Gandhi alleged that "in its design and its grave implications, it is a flawed legislation, is antithetical to the spirit of the freedom movement, and violative of the soul of India."

    "In this moment of anguish, I would like to reiterate the Congress Party determination to be relentless in our struggle against the BJP’s dangerously divisive and polarizing agenda," she said.

    Soon after the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha, Sibal told PTI that the party should move court against it. Asked if the Congress will move the Supreme Court, Singhvi told PTI, "It is certainly a legislation highly suspect in constitutionality in terms of basic structure and legal validity."

    "I have no doubt that it deserves to be challenged and will in the near future be challenged (in court)," said Singhvi, a Congress spokesperson and a senior lawyer. Chidambaram also said that the bill was a "brazen assault" on the fundamental ideas enshrined in the Constitution and the fate of the law will be decided in the Supreme Court.

    Another Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the bill was "unconstitutional" and is going to be challenged in the apex court. Earlier in the day, asked if the Congress would approach the Supreme Court against the Bill if it is passed by Parliament, Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said, "We will explore all possibilities."

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