Speaking at a rally in Karimnagar district in Telangana, Owaisi wanted Shah to discuss the new law with him instead of others.
Lucknow/Hyderabad: Union home minister Amit Shah’s open challenge to the Opposition for a debate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was on Wednesday accepted by BSP supremo Mayawati, while SP chief Akhilesh Yadav threw a counter challenge for a debate on development.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also responded to the challenge, telling Mr Shah, “Daadi wale se karo na” (Debate with a bearded man).
Accusing the Opposition of “misleading” people on the amended citizenship law, Mr Shah on Tuesday threw the challenge for a debate to Rahul Gandhi (Congress), Mamata Banerjee (Trinamul Congress), Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party).
“The BSP is ready to accept the challenge thrown by the Central government, which is troubled by the organised struggle and agitation all over the country against the most controversial CAA/NRC/NPR, especially by the youth and women, for a debate on the issue on any platform and anywhere,” Ms Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.
Asked by reporters in Lucknow about Mr Shah’s challenge, Akhilesh Yadav said, “I challenge the BJP for a debate on development.”
“I ask them to fix a place or a forum, with their favourite channels and anchors, for a debate on development. We Samajwadis are ready for it. Why did they not want to debate on the state of the economy and demonetisation,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said.
Mr Yadav said those who “understand the soul” of the country are opposed to the contentious law and accused the BJP of discrimination on the basis of religion.
Speaking at a rally in Karimnagar district in Telangana, Mr Owaisi wanted Shah to discuss the new law with him instead of others.
“I am here… Debate with me… Why (debate) with these people… ‘Daadi wale se karo na’ (Debate with a bearded man). We will talk and debate on CAA, NPR and NRC,” the leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) said.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has already challenged Mr Shah for a debate while party colleague P. Chidambaram asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to why he or his government did not accept his suggestion of the PM holding an open debate with five critics of the amended Citizenship Act and let people draw their own conclusion.
“I had suggested that the PM should select five of the most articulate critics and hold a Q&A session with them. Why doesn’t the PM/Government accept the suggestion? Let five critics of CAA-NPR debate the PM. Let the event be televised live. And let the people draw their own conclusions,” he said on Twitter.
In another tweet, he said, “HM (home minister) has dared the Opposition to debate CAA. Is that not what the Opposition, jurists, academics, writers, artists, students and youth have been doing since Dec 12?”
According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
It does not include Muslims.
Those opposing the CAA contend that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution. They also allege that the CAA along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is intended to target the Muslim community in India.