Kerala unites to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act

Thiruvananthapuram: December 16 witnessed a highly significant political event in the State capital. The momentous day saw the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) staging a joint rally, a rare occurrence, to protest against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The decision to stage the joint rally came following a telephonic conversation between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) Ramesh Chennithala.

A galaxy of leaders belonging to the rival fronts attended a ‘satyagraha’ outside the Martyrs’ Column in Thirivananthapuram. The Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition addressed the gathering, and voiced their strong opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act which received Presidential assent after Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill(CAB) in the just-concluded Winter Session of Parliament.

The coming together of the bitter political foes in State politics has sent a powerful message to the BJP and the Government led by it at the Centre. The crux of the message was that such ‘black laws’ which violate the basic features of the Constitution will not go unchallenged. It may be mentioned that Kerala was the first State to declare that CAA will not be implemented. Close on its heels came similar announcements by Punjab and West Bengal Chief Ministers Captain Amarinder Singh and Mamata Banerjee.

“What is being staged is a conspiracy to destroy democracy and equality, and establish autocracy and divide the country on the basis of religion. The Union Government is trying to realise the dream of V D Savarkar and M S Golwalkar with this amendment. It is the offspring of a concerted attempt to sabotage equality and secularism–the basic tenets of the Constitution,” the Kerala CM said.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that a protracted legal battle was in the offing. The legality of the black law will be questioned at all possible venues, added Vijayan. The Supreme Court, he said, had declared on several occasions that the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be undermined. The CAA will not stand legal scrutiny, and Kerala will not allow discrimination based on religion, he averred.

It may be mentioned that the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a prominent ally of the UDF in Kerala, has already moved the apex court in this connection. And the petition filed by the party will come up for hearing on Wednesday. The Congress will also file a separate petition soon, the party leaders declared on Monday.

The holding of the joint rally has, however, created a controversy, with a section of the Congress criticising the decision of the Leader of the Opposition.   The crux of their argument: The Congress is leading the nationwide movement against the CAA. That being the reality, there was no need to play second fiddle to the CPI (M) in the State. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Mullappally Ramachandran stayed away from a meeting the UDF held to discuss the situation, it is learnt.

The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), an ally of the Congress in the UDF, also voiced its opposition to the joint rally. It could have been avoided, the party leaders said.

The contention of the anti-rally leaders is that since the LDF and the UDF are engaged in a bitter political fight in the state, such rallies would weaken the battle and create confusion among the rank and file.

But there is another school of thought: The nation is passing through extremely difficult times. And there is a paramount need to fight black bills such as CAA. Therefore, total opposition unity is the need of the hour, they point out.

Whatever the denouement, the state is set to witness a long-drawn-out politico-legal battle against the CAA. The coming days could see an intensification of the battle against what the Opposition parties call the black law.

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