The Opposition in Rajya Sabha tore into the government on Wednesday over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, terming the proposed legislation as "unconstitutional", "divisive" and an assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the nation.
The Upper House witnessed strong opposition to the Bill from the Congress, NCP, DMK, BSP, RJD, JDS, AAP, MDMK, TRS, IUML and SDP during the six-hour-long debate on the controversial legislation.
The opposition parties wanted the Bill to be sent to the Select Committee of the House but the motion was defeated with 124 votes against it and 99 in favour.
Launching a scathing attack on the government, Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded to know why the entire North East including Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland was burning at the moment if people were happy about the proposed legislation.
The senior Congress leader said: "Honourable home ministerji, you brought demonetisation, GST, (legislation on) triple talaq, NRC, Article 370 (related law) and Citizenship Bill in the same pattern. You bring such bills every four or six months to divert the attention of people from unemployment, problems of farmers, poverty....".
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram termed the Bill a slap on the face of Parliament and said the government is "ramming" through with it in order to advance its Hindutva agenda.
He charged the government with "wrecking and demolishing" the Constitution through it and expressed confidence that the judiciary would strike down the law.
"This (bill) is a slap on the face of Parliament. ...I am afraid this government is ramming through (with) this bill in order to advance its Hindutva agenda...This is a sad day," he said.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal accused the government for giving a legal colour to the "two nation theory" and urged it not to convert "Indian republic into a jurassic republic where there are two dinosaurs".
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma termed the proposed legislation as unconstitutional and said manifesto of any political party cannot override the Constitution.
He termed the Bill as an assault on the foundational values of Constitution and added "it hurts the soul of republic of India." The Shiv Sena, which voted in favour of the controversial Bill in Lok Sabha, opposed it in Rajya Sabha, saying the draft law should have been debated on the basis of "humanity not religion".
The Sena does not need to prove how "staunch Hindu" and "patriotic" the party is, Sanjay Raut said while participating in the debate.
The Sena member also attacked some MPs who said on Tuesday that those opposing the Bill were "traitors" and "speaking the language of Pakistan".
"We don't need any certificate to prove how patriotic we are and how staunch Hindu we are. We are the headmaster of the school where you study. Our school headmaster was Bal Thackeray and Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We believe in them," he added.
Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien too termed the Bill as unconstitutional, and warned of people's movement against the Bill. He also said it would be challenged in the Supreme Court.
He said the present bill has been drawn from "Nazi Coffee Book" and is part of BJP's "agenda".
Samajwadi Party MP Javed Ali Khan said through the proposed legislation, the BJP was fulfilling the dream of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Vaiko (MDMK) said the bill was an assault on equality, secularism and democracy.
"This bill should be thrown into the Bay of Bengal," he said Sanjay Singh (AAP) opposed the bill terming it against the basic tenets of Constitution.
Binoy Viswam (CPI) said the sword of Damocles was hanging on Indian democracy.
Ripun Bora (Cong) said: "You have finished Assam, entire North East is burning. Now you are going to finish the entire country by bringing this bill... you may pass the bill but the Northeast will not accept it." Ritabrata Banerjee (Ind) said the bill is against the "idea of Tagore and the idea of India".
Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) said: "We are opposing as preamble of the Constitution, which states everyone should be treated equal, has been compromised. ...the soul of our Constitution is secularism." Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said classification of persecuted non-Muslims and cost of authentication is going to be high.
Praful Patel (NCP) said the bill has been brought in "haste" and it should be referred to a select committee.
Hishey Lackhungpe (SDP), Abdul Wahab (IUML), Mir Mohammad Fayaz (J&K PD) too opposed the bill saying it's a "draconian law".
"The way bill has been brought here, it is clear Muslims are targeted.... Why Muslims are excluded?" Fayaz said, adding he repented why his ancestors chose not to go to Pakistan after Partition.
The Bill was passed with 125 votes in favour and 105 against it.