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Congress to oppose its passage
NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding stiff opposition, the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is likely to be introduced in Lok Sabha on December 9 and will be taken up for discussion and passage the next day.
The passage of the bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there, is all but certain in the House given the massive majority the BJP and its allies enjoy there.
The bill was cleared by the Union cabinet on Wednesday.
The Union government is also confident of its passage in Rajya Sabha with the support of several non-aligned regional parties like the BJD and the TRS, which have often joined the treasury benches in the past, despite vehement opposition by the Congress and strident anti-BJP parties like the TMC, which have been claiming that citizenship can’t be given on the basis of religion.
The government on Thursday informed leaders of different parties at the Business Advisory Committee that it will put the bill for discussion in the Lower House on Tuesday, official sources said.
The Congress, which has termed the bill ‘divisive’ and discriminatory, made it clear on Thursday that it will oppose the draft legislation in Parliament.
Making the party’s stand clear, its leader Rahul Gandhi said in Kerala that the Congress is against “any form of discrimination against anybody in this country”.
“So anybody who discriminates against anybody who is Indian, we are against them…That is our line. We believe that India belongs to everybody – all communities, all religions, all cultures,” Gandhi told reporters.
In Lucknow, BSP president Mayawati described the bill as unconstitutional, and demanded that it be sent to a parliamentary committee for review.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill cleared by the central cabinet is both unconstitutional and divisive. Citizenship in the name of religion and discrimination in the name of religion of the citizens through it is totally against the basic structure of the humanitarian and secular Constitution of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar,” Mayawati told reporters. “Instead of forcing this bill, like demonetisation and GST, the central government should review it,” she said.
Opposition parties like the DMK and Trinamool Congress are also opposed to it. The stand of Shiv Sena, a longtime Hindutva ally of the BJP which is now in the opposition camp, will be keenly observed by political watchers as it has been a strong votary of the bill but may now be forced to change its stand due to alliance with the Congress.
Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was a commitment given by the party to the persecuted minorities from Afghanistan-Pakistan-Bangladesh and hit out at the “bleeding hearts” who were complaining about the bill. “It was passed by the last Lok Sabha but couldn’t reach Rajya Sabha and lapsed. A revised bill is coming. Upholding India’s tradition to shelter the persecuted in the neighbourhood,” he tweeted.
“For all others about whom the bleeding hearts’ are complaining, Indian citizenship laws are there. Naturalized citizenship is an option for others who legally claim Indian citizenship. All other illegals will be infiltrators. No country in the world accepts illegal migrants,” he said. (PTI)