New Delhi: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Assaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday threw an open challenge to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after the BJP warhorse dared opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav to confront him in a debate.

Addressing a rally in Karimnagar district of Hyderabad, Owaisi’s home constituency, on Tuesday night ahead of the municipal polls on January 25, the Hyderabad MP said the Home Minister should debate with him ‘a bearded man’ Shah to debate with him on the legislation.

“You should debate with me. I am here. Why debate with them? The debate should be with a bearded man. I can debate with them on CAA, NPR (National Population Register) and NRC (National Register of Citizens),” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Owaisi also

Earlier at a Lucknow rally, Amit Shah had emphatically said that the Citizenship law will not be withdrawn and those protesting can continue to do so even as he challenged opposition leaders for a public debate on the amended legislation.

He vehemently accused the opposition of “misleading” people on the amended law and challenged a debate to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati.

AIMIM chief Owaisi has been critical of the ruling BJP at the Centre on several occasions. Recently, the Hyderabad MP hit out at the BJP over renaming of places, while mentioning about the ‘Halwa‘ ceremony ahead of the Union budget.

“BJP says it will change names. I want to ask from where did the word halwa originate? It is an Arabic word. It is neither Hindi nor Urdu (word). now remove the Arabic word… They (BJP) say they will continue to change names,” he alleged.

“Inshallah people of the country will change you,” the Hyderabad MP said adding “remember I am not halwa… I am lal mirchi (red chilli).”

The Citizenship law and nationwide NRC has spurred widespread protests leading to violence across the country. Despite thousands of students, activists and politicians agitating against the Centre’s move, the contentious law came into effect on January 10.

It must be noted that the CAA allows grants Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains from neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh – who entered India before December 31, 2014, after facing religious persecution. Menwhie, Muslim migrants don’t figure on this list.