Opposition leaders say they are ready for debate on CAA with Shah

Amit Shah had dared Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav to have a debate with him on the citizenship law

CAA, Citizenship Amendment Act, debate, Amit Shah, opposition, BSP, Bahujan Samaj Party, Mayawati, AIMIM, Asaduddin Owaisi, Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, debate on development, P Chidambaram, Congress, Rahul Gandhi
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati (left), Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav (centre) and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram (right). Photo: PTI

A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah challenged the Opposition for a public discussion on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday (January 22) said they were ready for a debate.

“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,” Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party president and Uttar Pradesh former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said he was ready to hold a discussion with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but that the debate would be on development. “I ask them to fix a place or any forum with their favourite channels and anchors for a debate on development. The topic of debate will be development, employment, youth, farmers etc. We Samajwadis are ready for it,” he said.

Also read: All those who understand soul of country opposing CAA, says Akhilesh Yadav

Addressing a rally in support of the CAA on Tuesday, Shah had dared Mayawati, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav to have a debate with him on the law on a ‘sarvjanik manch’ (public platform).

Shah had emphatically said the CAA will not be withdrawn and those protesting can continue to do so even as he challenged opposition leaders for a public debate on the amended legislation.

Meanwhile, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi joined the issue and invited Shah to have a debate with him, referring to himself as a “bearded man”.

Reacting to Shah’s challenge, Owaisi said, “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.”

Also read: Chidambaram hits out at PM for not accepting proposal of debating CAA with 5 critics

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had already challenged Shah earlier for a debate, while senior Congress leader 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?”

(With inputs from agencies)