MUMBAI: BJP leader Ashish Shelar on Friday wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, demanding immediate implementation of the "historic" amended Citizenship Act in Maharashtra.
He also said that Thackeray should clarify his government's position, after Congress leader and minister Nitin Raut opposed implementation of the law in the state.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was approved by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha this week.
The Act paves the way for granting Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who have migrated after facing religious persecution.
"As you are aware, the historic Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It should be immediately implemented in Maharashtra as well once it comes into effect in the rest of the country after the President gives assent to it," Shelar said in the letter.
He criticised the Congress for opposing implementation of the law in the state and 'creating confusion'.
"Hence, you should clear the government's stand on the issue," Shelar demanded in the letter.
State BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said the Congress's stand reflects contempt for the Constitution and challenges Parliament's powers.
"This act is a historic step taken by the BJP to protect the human rights of minority community members persecuted on religious grounds in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"Instead of supporting the step, the Congress is opposing it, which is shocking," Bhandari said in a statement.
Congress leader Sanjay Dutt hit back at BJP leaders, saying that like the British, they wanted to divide and rule.
"Chief ministers of Punjab, West Bengal and Kerala have already gone on record to state that they will not permit it to be implemented in their states. Does BJP spokesperson want to suggest that they do not know about constitutional obligations," he said in a statement. The BJP spokesperson had "closed his eyes to the burning North East", he said, and asked if the BJP wanted the peaceful atmosphere in Maharashtra to be vitiated.
".... there is no difference between BJP rule at the Centre and the British rule before Independence - both were /are keen to play the malafide politics of divide and rule," Dutt said.
He appealed the state government to reject the act, recalling the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj and social reformers such as Jyotirao Phule, Chhatrapati Shahu and Dr BR Ambedkar.