NEW DELHI: Severely criticising the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said it marks a "dark day" in the constitutional history of India and is a "victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces" over the country's pluralism.
Rajya Sabha approved The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with 125 votes in favour and 105 against it, while the Lok Sabha passed the legislation on Monday with 311 members favouring it and 80 voting against it.
In a strongly-worded statement issued immediately after the bill was passed, Gandhi said the bill is not just an affront to the eternal principles of equality and religious non-discrimination that have been enshrined in the Constitution, but represents a rejection of an India that would be a free nation for all her people, irrespective of religion, region, caste, creed, language or ethnicity.
"Today marks a dark day in the constitutional history of India. The passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill marks the victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces over India's pluralism," she said.
"The Bill fundamentally challenges the idea of India that our forefathers fought for and, in its place, creates a disturbed, distorted and divided India where religion will become a determinant of nationhood," she said.
Gandhi alleged that "in its design and its grave implications, it is a flawed legislation, is antithetical to the spirit of the freedom movement, and violative of the soul of India."
"In this moment of anguish, I would like to reiterate the Congress Party determination to be relentless in our struggle against the BJP's dangerously divisive and polarizing agenda," she said.
India is a nation that has historically offered refuge and protection to the persecuted of all nations and of all faiths, she noted.
"We are a proud nation that has never been broken by the insecurity of a few, for we have always stood firm with the knowledge that free India can only remain free if her people are liberated, if her voices are heard, and if our institutions, our governments and our political forces dedicate themselves to securing the inalienable rights of the citizens of this country," she asserted.
It is ironic that the Bill has been pushed through at a time when the country and indeed the whole world are celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi said.