Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday called the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 “an attempt by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah government to “ethnically cleanse the Northeast”, calling it a “criminal attack” on the people.

Hours before the debate on the controversial bill in the Rajya Sabha, Gandhi tweeted, “The CAB is an attempt by Modi-Shah govt to ethnically cleanse the North East. It is a criminal attack on the North East, their way of life and the idea of India. I stand in solidarity with the people of the North East and am at their service (sic).”

On Tuesday, Gandhi described the CAB, as “an attack on the Constitution and said that anyone who supports the Bill is attempting to destroy the foundation of India.”

The Bill, which is an amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 and was passed by the Lok Sabha a little after midnight on Tuesday, will come up for consideration and passing.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution there.

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.

Despite exemptions to execute the proposed legislation on citizenship in the Autonomous District Council areas and regions under the Inner Line Permit (ILP), the agitating organisations and political parties in the Northeast on Tuesday remained firm on their demand for withdrawing CAB, claiming the exemptions would not be able to check infiltrations or protect the demographic positions of the indigenous people of the northeast region.

The opposition parties have termed the Bill as “anti-minority” and “unconstitutional”.

Meanwhile, the Congress has issued a 3-line whip mandating its members in the Rajya Sabha to be present today for the presentation of the CAB.

After the CAB had an easy passage in the Lok Sabha, the Opposition hopes to block its passage in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling BJP alone doesn’t have numbers and will need to rely on support from others.

The current strength of the House is 240 and the Government will need more than half the votes to win this one that means 121.

The Bill had got cleared the Lok Sabha test during the previous NDA regime as well, but couldn’t clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle due to protests.