Hyderabad politician Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday challenged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to a face-off on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after the BJP leader dared opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav to a debate on the controversial law, accused of being discriminatory towards Muslims.
“Why debate with them? Debate with me,” the 50-year-old chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen or AIMIM party at a rally in Telangana’s Karimnagar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
“You should debate with me. I am here. Why debate with them? The debate should be with a bearded man. I can debate with them on CAA, NPR (National Population Register) and NRC (National Register of Citizens),” he said, according to ANI, in reference to the facial hair that Muslim men are required to maintain.
The CAA and the NRC have been accused of being discriminatory towards Muslims. While the CAA promises citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the NRC intends to identify undocumented immigrants who came to India after a specified date.
Critics say the CAA makes religion a condition for citizenship for the first time, going against the principles of Indian constitution. Combined with the NRC, the law could be used to target Muslims who cannot prove their lineage, they say. Opposition parties say the NPR is just a precursor to the NRC.
Despite widespread protests, the government says CAA, which came into effect on January 10, is necessary to help those who faced religious persecution in the neighbouring countries.
On Tuesday, at a rally organised in support of the law in Lucknow, Amit Shah said no matter how much opposition the law faced, it will be implemented and those protesting can continue to do so.
“I want to say that irrespective of the protests it (CAA) will not be withdrawn,” Shah thundered, adding, “Whoever has to oppose can oppose the act, it is not going to be revoked.”