Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Sunday, said that if states refuse to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act [CAA], it is unconstitutional.
She was speaking at an event organised by Chennai Citizens Forum and New India Forum in Chennai on Sunday, as per reports. “They (political parties) can make a political statement; if they are going to pass a resolution [against the CAA] in the Assembly, they can do it. But when it is passed in Parliament, they need to implement it. If they say they won’t, it is against the Constitution,” she said.
She was in Chennai as part of the central government’s drive to create awareness about the CAA across the country. Defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, she maintained there was no necessity to mix up the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register with the CAA and appealed to those opposing the act not to make allegations that would lead to unrest among the public.
State governments of Kerala and Punjab have passed resolutions against the CAA in their respective state legislatures. Government of Kerala has also approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Act.
Brushing away criticism that the CAA will exclude one community from getting citizenship, Nirmala Sitharaman quoted data from the Union Home ministry and said that since 2014, a total of 566 Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have been granted Indian citizenship. She also said that between 2016 and 2018, the Union government has granted citizenship to 1,595 migrants from Pakistan and 391 migrants from Afghanistan.
Referring to Sri Lankan Tamils who have been living in refugee camps for decades, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Besides, 4.61 lakh Tamils from Sri Lanka during the period 1964-2008 have received citizenships...There are many who want to politicise this issue. But instead of doing that, they can ask us questions, and we will certainly answer them.” Appealing to those who oppose the CAA, Sitharaman said if you have any objections, speak and raise questions in the Parliament.
"Please do not make any allegations which are not true and that would create unrest among the public", she said.