Parliament passes Citizenship Amendment Bill: Narendra Modi hails law as proof of 'compassion, brotherhood'; Opposition says dark day for democracy

  • Narendra Modi was one of the first political leaders to react to the passage of the bill, which received 125 votes in favour, and 105 votes against it in the Rajya Sabha

  • Hailing the legislation, Modi said, 'A landmark day for India and our nation's ethos of compassion and brotherhood'

  • Opposition termed the passage of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha as a dark day in democracy, while terming the Bill as anti-constitutional

  • The BIll was passed by the Lok Sabha after a prolonged debate just after midnight on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, hailing it as "a landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood!"

The Bill that will give Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh was passed in the Upper House of the Parliament with 125 votes in favour and 105 votes against it in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha after a prolonged debate just after midnight on Tuesday.

Home Minister Amit Shah, who introduced the Bill in Parliament and was at the helm of the Centre's campaign for it, said, "The dreams of crores of deprived and victimised people have come true today."

Earlier, while replying to all questions raised by the Opposition leaders during the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Shah had said that Indians Muslims "need not worry". Opposition leaders have described as unconstitutional and anti-Muslim.

Several other ministers in the Modi Cabinet and BJP leaders also hailed the top brass for the successful passage of the Bill.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said, "I express my heartfelt gratitude to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. This golden day of the Parliamentary history of India became possible only due to Modi ji. It also revealed the true face of Congress party and its allies."

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders, including those who didn't present arguments against the Bill in either Houses of Parliament, said it was a "dark day" for Indian democracy.

Union minister Piyush Goyal claimed that all parties of the North East, including those not with the BJP, voted in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi issued a statement soon after the passage of the Bill and said, "The passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill marks the victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces over India's pluralism."

Senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill will be challenged in court in the near future as it is "highly suspect" in terms of constitutionality.

"It is certainly legislation highly suspect in constitutionality in terms of basic structure and legal validity. I have no doubt that it deserves to be challenged and will in the near future be challenged (in court)," he said.

Another Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the Bill was "unconstitutional" and is going to be challenged in the apex court. Earlier on Wednesday, asked if the Congress would approach the Supreme Court against the Bill if it is passed by Parliament, veteran Congress leader KC Venugopal said, "We will explore all possibilities."

Additionally, TMC MP Derek O'Brien, who vociferously opposed the Bill in the Upper House on Wednesday, said, "This government only makes big promises but all their promises fail. Mamata Di has stated clearly that NRC and CAB will not be implemented in West Bengal."

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, under house arrest in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, had issued a whip to party MP Mir Mohammad Fayaz to be present in the House during the debate on the contentious legislation. Through her account, her daughter Iltija tweeted soon after the passage of the Bill.

Other Opposition leaders also slammed the legislation, saying that it was an "assault" on democracy.

Meanwhile, former NDA ally Shiv Sena walking out of the House ahead of the vote was a significant development in the debate over the bill. Party MP Sanjay Raut said, "My party and I felt that when answers are not given properly then it is not right to either support or oppose the Bill."

"We didn't say that the refugees shouldn't be granted citizenship, they should be given. But we said that if it's a conspiracy for vote bank politics and allegations are being levelled against you then they should not be granted voting rights for 25 years. Secondly, if you look at the population and resources of India, how many people can you take in? They also did not clear the stand on Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka. There are so many things," he said.

Even Congress leader P Chidambaram welcomed the development of the Shiv Sena not explicitly supporting the BJP on the legislation. "Shiv Sena not voting for the Bill after voting for it in Lok Sabha, is a welcome development," said Chidambaram.

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Updated Date: Dec 12, 2019 00:12:58 IST