Setting the political differences apart, parties from the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala have decided to come together to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala, and other leaders from the parties constituting LDF and UDF will stage a satyagraha (civil disobedience) on December 16 at the Martyrs’ Column in Thiruvananthapuram, urging the Centre to revoke the new act.
“State ministers, the leader of the opposition in the Assembly and other leaders of the UDF and LDF members will jointly organise a 'satyagraha' in front of the Martyr's Column to register their protest against the new Act,” said Vijayan in a Facebook post.
“The state has decided to put up a united protest as the Act has given rise to concerns among the citizens and it destroys the values of equality and secularism enshrined in the Constitution,” he added.
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Except one member, 139 of total members in the state legislative Assembly belong to either LDF or UDF and all these members are expected to be part of the joint protest on December 16.
Soon after Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on December 12, Vijayan lashed out at the BJP-led central government and its divisive policy and made it clear that the unconstitutional bill has no room in Kerala.
“The Act is unconstitutional... Citizenship Amendment Bill will have no place in Kerala and it will not be implemented in the state,” he said.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is an attack on the secular and democratic character of India. The move to decide citizenship on the basis of religion amounts to a rejection of the Constitution. It will only take our country backwards. Our hard-fought freedom is at stake,” he added.
Prominent personalities from cultural and social fields will also take part in the joint protest to raise slogans to withdraw the controversial Act.
“Citizens are being divided in the name of religion. People are concerned over this. Kerala has already opined that this law is unconstitutional and cannot be implemented. We need to protect the Constitution and its values. The protest will hear the joint voices against the Act,” Vijayan said.
Opposition Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the UDF had plans to join hands with the like-minded political parties to protest against the controversial Act.
According to the amended Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities—excluding Muslims—who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants, but will be given Indian citizenship.
Apart from the proposed joint protest, the state has been witnessing small protest gatherings, marches and campaigns against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill since its introduction in Parliament. As the president Ram Nath Kovind signed the Bill on Thursday night and it had become an Act, the protests intensified across the state as well as across the country too.
From the ruling front, on Friday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) took out marches to the central government offices across the state in protest against the CAA. Communist Party of India (CPI) on Thursday conducted similar kind of protests at various places too. From the UDF camp, Congress and Indian Union Muslim League, along with other parties, have demonstrated across various parts of the country.
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Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and youth organisation Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) also organised marches and campaigns against the CAA. Students’ unions and student community as a whole have also been the part of the ongoing protests.
LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan said that the front will organise mass gatherings of people at all district headquarters to protest against the Act on Dcemeber 19. He appealed to the masses to unite for the protest against the central government’s move that rocked the secular foundation of the country.
(With inputs from PTI)