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Finalise a venue: Mayawati, Akhilesh accept Amit Shah's challenge

Finalise a venue: Mayawati, Akhilesh accept Amit Shahs challenge

Lucknow: A day after Union Home minister Amit Shah dared Opposition leaders for a public discussion on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday accepted his challenge for a debate "at any forum and at any place."

"As far as debate is concerned, finalise the venue. Select your favourite channels and anchors. We are ready to a debate on development," SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said. Those who "understand the soul" of the country are opposed to the amended citizenship law, he added, accusing the BJP of discriminating on the basis of religion.

BSP chief Mayawati had earlier hit out at the Centre and said her party is ready to debate at any platform.

"The government, disturbed by protests against the controversial CAA/NRC/NPR, by the entire country, especially the youth and women, has challenged the Opposition to debate on the matter. The BSP accepts the challenge to debate on it at any forum and at any place," Mayawati tweeted.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a 4-kilometre-long protest march against CAA in Darjeeling on Wednesday, where she accused the Centre of "pushing CAA only in non-BJP ruled states."

Addressing a rally in Lucknow, Shah had maintained that the government won't step back on the amended citizenship law, challenging Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati for a discussion on the Act "in a public forum".

In a sharp retort to Home minister's brazen remark that the Centre would not withdraw the CAA under any circumstances, JD(U) national vice-president Prashant Kishor on Wednesday said being dismissive of citizens' dissent was not a sign of a government's strength.

"Being dismissive of citizens' dissent couldn't be the sign of strength of any Govt. @amitshah Ji, if you don't care for those protesting against #CAA_NRC, why don't you go ahead and try implementing the CAA & NRC in the chronology that you so audaciously announced to the nation," Kishor tweeted.

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