CAA becomes key poll issue in Kerala; LDF and UDF protest, BJP defends

The notification of CAA rules by the Central government has turned into a key issue in Kerala in the Lok Sabha polls, sparking separate protests by the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF, while the BJP vehemently defended it, asserting it does not target Muslims.
Kerala politics
Kerala politics

Thiruvananthapuram | The notification of CAA rules by the Central government has turned into a key issue in Kerala in the Lok Sabha polls, sparking separate protests by the CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF, while the BJP vehemently defended it, asserting it does not target Muslims.

Protests have erupted in various parts of Kerala against the Centre's notification regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as both the LDF and the UDF organised marches towards Central government institutions to condemn the decision.

A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan denounced the CAA as divisive and assured it would not be implemented in the state, senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar criticised him, alleging that Vijayan was misleading the public.

"Shri Pinarayi, don't make the people fools. The CAA is not designed to revoke anyone's citizenship but to grant it to refugees persecuted on religious grounds who came to India. This is not discriminatory against Muslims," Javadekar said in a post on 'X'.

Javadekar, who is also the BJP in-charge of Kerala, said Muslims are not persecuted for their religion in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan.

Shortly after the Centre announced the implementation of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, Vijayan had said the government has repeatedly stated that the Act, which treats Muslim minorities as second-class citizens, will not be implemented in Kerala.

"That remains the position. All of Kerala will stand united in opposing this communally divisive law," the chief minister said in a statement here.

Meanwhile, hitting out at the BJP on the issue, the CPI(M)-led LDF on Tuesday alleged that "the RSS agenda to build a Hindu Rashtra is behind the CAA." "The notification was issued ahead of the elections with the aim of religious polarisation," LDF convenor E P Jayarajan alleged.

Seeking to garner support in favour of the Left from the Muslim community in polls in Kerala, Jayarajan claimed that the Congress did not oppose the Citizenship Act in Parliament.

"Congress MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha didn't do anything. It was like tacitly supporting communalism," the senior CPI(M) leader told reporters.

He alleged that the intention of the Centre is to break the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country and seize power.

Hitting back at the LDF, the UDF alleged that the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government, which says that the CAA will not be implemented in the state, has no sincerity on the issue.

"In 2019, police in the state registered 835 cases related to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Despite the chief minister's announcement to withdraw non-aggressive cases, this action has not been carried out. It raises questions about the government's stance.

"The chief minister should clarify why these cases have not been withdrawn," the Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, V D Satheesan," said.

Criticising the Centre on the issue, the Congress leader said the same government that filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it did not intend to implement the CAA amendment brought the rules into effect just before the elections.

"Determining citizenship on the basis of religion is unacceptable. This action is against Article 5 of the Constitution on how to grant citizenship. The Congress and the UDF will fight as hard as they can to preserve the Constitution," he said.

BJP state president K Surendran alleged that the LDF and UDF are dividing the people under the cover of the CAA.

Speaking to the mediapersons in Kochi, he said that both fronts are trying to deceive the Muslim community in Kerala.

"CAA has become law in our country. No one can do anything. I do not know if you are aware or not, but Pinarayi Vijayan, after CAA came up for discussion in Parliament, has set up a concentration camp in Kollam to detain illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and other infiltrators.

"If there is any lie in what I said, you should go and investigate. Vijayan has established a jail in Kollam. The first concentration camp on Centre's instructions to implement the CAA has been set up in Kerala's Kollam district. The first state to implement the CAA would be Kerala", Surendran alleged.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI(M), on Tuesday announced its intention to challenge the union government's decision to implement the CAA, by filing a petition in the Supreme Court.

DYFI's All India President, A A Rahim, expressed that the amendment poses a threat to the fundamental principles of the country's Constitution.

During a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Rahim, a Rajya Sabha MP, said that incorporating religion as a criterion for citizenship would undermine secularism in India.

Highlighting the widespread democratic protests across religious communities against the amendment, Rahim praised the statement made by Chief Minister Vijayan, which he believes has instilled hope among the people.

Rahim questioned whether any chief ministers of Congress in other states would take a similar stance and urged the party to abandon its soft Hindutva approach.

The CAA was passed in December 2019 and subsequently got the President's assent, but there were protests in several parts of the country against it, with many opposition parties speaking out against the law, calling it "discriminatory." The law could not come into effect as rules had not been notified till now.

This act grants citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

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