SURAT: Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday said enactment of the "unconstitutional and unnecessary" new citizenship Act was a ploy by the Centre to "divert attention" of people from its "failure" to prevent the economic slowdown.
Addressing a gathering during the course of his "Gandhi Shanti Yatra" here, the former BJP leader quoted former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian saying that India was facing a "great slowdown with its economy headed for intensive care unit (ICU)".
"All sections of the society are disenchanted with the functioning of the government. Those in the government are great experts at diverting attention."
"So, this unconstitutional, unnecessary Act is meant to divert the attention of the youth, farmers, women, so they get involved in opposing this and do not think about their daily difficulties," Sinha said.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was notified on January 10, grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities migrated to India Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh till December 31, 2014, following their persecution over their faith.
Massive protests were witnessed against the CAA, mainly by the student community, since its passage by Parliament in December last year.
Opposition parties has been dubbing the CAA "anti-Muslim" legislation, a charge being debunked by the government.
Sinha said, "The Act was brought in because the economic condition of the country is at present in a great danger".
The former finance minister was in Surat as part of his 3,000-km yatra, which began from Mumbai on January 9, for various demands including repealing the CAA; constituting judicial inquiry into instances of "state-sponsored violence" such as the attack on JNU students, and seeking the government's assurance in Parliament that nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise will not be carried out.
"The biggest catch of the Act, which is why this can't be implemented, despite being notified by the Central government, is that it talks about giving citizenship to persons who have suffered religious persecution or fear of religious persecution," Sinha told reporters.
"Where is the evidence of religious persecution? It is in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but not in India. Will India get proof of this from neighbouring countries?" he asked.
"How will a child prove if their parents or grandparents who migrated here from neighbouring countries are dead? This Act cannot be truly implemented because it is unconstitutional, with an artificial cut-off date, is based on religion, and is impractical," he added.