Violent protests weaken the country and the government believes that debate strengthens democracy, said President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday as spoke to a joint sitting of Parliament meeting for the first day of the Budget session.
Kovind referred to a controversial citizenship law that has provoked protests across India, saying it fulfilled Mahatma Gandhi’s wish of protecting minority rights.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) aims to fast-track citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The passing of the bill on December 11 last year triggered widespread demonstrations.
“I am happy that the wish of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi has been fulfilled through the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act by both the Houses of Parliament,” he said a day after a man in Delhi shot at protesters demonstrating against CAA.
Kovind spoke the government is committed to making India a $5 trillion economy.
Speaking to journalists before the President’s speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped that there would be “good economic debates” in both houses.
Top Congress leaders led by Sonia Gandhi earlier staged a protest near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament complex to save the Constitution and express solidarity with those protesting against the CAA.
Congreess MPs in both Houses attended the joint sitting of Parliament in Central Hall wearing black bands on their arms during the President’s address.