Lok Sabha voted in favour of the introduction of Citizenship Amendment Bill after a division was ordered, 293 MPs voted in favour of introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha, while 82 MPs voted against it.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there. The Lok Sabha voted in favour of introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill despite protests from Opposition which labelled the legislation “regressive”. The bill was introduced with 293 yes and 82 Nos. The Lok Sabha saw a war of words between Home Minister Amit Shah and the Opposition, with Shah insisting that the bill was “not even 0.001% against the minorities of the country”. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called it “nothing but a targeted legislation over minority people of our country”, while the TMC called it “divisive and unconstitutional”.
Shiv Sena has also slammed the Centre over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and said it could lead to an increase in vote bank politics in India. The Shiv Sena also questioned whether the intention of the bill was to “create a vote bank” and said it is not good for the country. “Is it acceptable?” Sena questioned in its editorial mouthpiece Saamana. While it did not directly oppose the bill, it suggested Shah to revoke voting rights of new citizens for the next 25 years. Sena’s suggestion came just before Shah presented the bill in Lok Sabha on Monday. Sena also questioned the move as it fears that “selective acceptance” of Hindu illegal immigrants will act as a trigger for a religious war in the country. It also warned the Centre that the bill could lead to an “invisible partition” of Hindus and Muslims.
The Bill has triggered widespread protests in northeastern states with a large section of people and organisations opposing the Bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.
The BJP has issued a three-line whip to all its lawmakers to be present in the Parliament. “All BJP members in Lok Sabha are hereby informed that some very important Legislative Business will be taken up for discussion and passing in the Lok Sabha from Monday, the 9th December 2019 to Wednesday, the 11th December 2019. All members of the BJP in Lok Sabha are therefore, requested to be positively present in the House and support the government,” the letter reads.
Shah said he was ready to respond to all queries “but the Opposition must not walk out” when he does.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh Singh told Afternoon Voice, “The Citizenship Amendment Bill will protect non-Muslims from other countries; the bill is necessary to protect members of non-Muslim communities from India’s neighbouring countries. The women of the non-Muslim communities in our neighbouring countries are not safe. For the protection of non-Muslim communities from our neighbouring countries, the Citizenship Amendment Bill is going to be tabled in the Parliament. It is our duty to enact this law in the interest of our brethren across the borders.”
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said that secularism is a part of the Constitution. He said that the Constitution was violated in the Sarbanand Sonowal and Chakma cases. In a democracy, everybody has the right to protest. But is it not true, that the country’s partition took place on the basis of religion? In India, we accepted the policy of equality of religions. “But in Pakistan and Bangladesh the non-Muslims are being exploited,” he added. Save India from such a law.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stood to oppose the Bill, asking if religion should be a basis of nationhood. “Those who believed in this ideology formed Pakistan,” he said.
Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Ray rises to oppose the Bill, under rule 72(1) of the rules of the House. He said that the Home Minister being new to the House is not aware of the rules of the House. His statement invites uproar from the Treasury benches. Speaker reads out the names of all those who have opposed the introduction of the Bill on the basis of Articles 5, 10, 14, 15, 25, 26 of the Constitution. Ray called the Bill divisive and unconstitutional. He said that Shah had promised one nation, one law while abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, but the Bill excludes sixth schedule areas and Inner Line Permit areas.
While, leaders owing allegiance to the BJP or to the NDA as allies in the North East have expressed strong reservations against the bill, the BJP leaders in Assam, and those of its ally AGP, have completely chickened out in front of the central leadership of the national party.
It has been construed that those who will be granted citizenship via CAB are those who have either faced ‘religious persecution or fear of religious persecution’ in their parent country. Although the notification talks about ‘Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians’, it is the Bangladeshi Hindus who are residing in Assam without any valid documents who will benefit primarily.