The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after a heated debate which lasted for over seven hours. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to table the Bill in the Rajya Sabha at 2 pm on Wednesday.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the passage of the Bill and said that it is in line with"India's centuries-old ethos of assimilation, belief in humanitarian values", Opposition parties slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the "attack on the Indian Constitution".
Terming the midnight passage of the bill as "India’s tryst with bigotry and narrow-minded exclusion", Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that the Congress would fight the government's attempts to "systematically destroy our Constitution".
Our constitution, our citizenship, our dreams of a strong and unified India belong to ALL of us.
We will fight against this government’s agenda to systematically destroy our constitution and undo the fundamental premise on which our country was built with all our might.
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) December 10, 2019
Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the government over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying it was an "attack on the Indian Constitution".
The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 10, 2019
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury slammed the Centre over the passage of the Bill, alleging the BJP-led government brought in the legislation to "sharpen communal polarisation" and "convert" India into a "Hindutva Rashtra".
He also said the citizenship of a person cannot be determined by religious affiliation.
"By doing this, they want to sharpen communal polarisation. They want to divide the people of India and convert our secular democratic republic into a Hindutva rashtra," PTI quoted him as saying.
We reject this bill of Jinnah and Savarkar's dreams. It is unconstitutional, and divides our people. We will continue to fight against it in all possible forums.
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) December 9, 2019
According to the proposed legislation, members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who came to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan by 31 December, 2014 and faced religious persecution in those countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and will be given Indian citizenship.
Meanwhile, the question of supporting the Bill has also led to divisions within a few NDA allies.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said that Shiv Sena won't back the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha till the government answers the questions posed by the party.
“We voted yesterday to absorb various people facing brutalities in other countries but we have asked many questions. Those questions we thought would be answered, ranging from national security to the rights of locals in various states of India,” Sena leader and Uddhav's son Aaditya quoted him as saying in a tweet.
"We need to change this notion that one who supports the Bill and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a patriot and one who opposes it is anti-national. The government should answer all the issues raised on the Bill," Uddhav said.
Shiv Sena, a former ally of the BJP, had supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha. Current NDA allies like the Janata Dal (United) have also supported the Bill in the Lower House, however, it remains to be seen whether they will extend support in the Upper House.
The NCP, Shiv Sena's alliance partner in Maharashtra, however, said that the two are different parties and it is not possible always for them to hold the same view on all issues.
NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the parties are committed to ensuring that no injustice is meted to anyone on the grounds of religion, caste, language and region in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant also said that though the Shiv Sena has backed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in the Lok Sabha, it was hopeful the Uddhav Thackeray-led party will stick to the common minimum programme (CMP) while governing the state.
The JD(U) too appeared to be divided on the issue, with two senior party leaders urging party chief and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to "reconsider" the party's backing to CAB when the legislation is debated in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Terming the Bill as "unconstitutional, discriminatory", party general secretary Pavan K Verma urged Kumar to reconsider support to the CAB in the Rajya Sabha.
I urge Shri Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the #CAB in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the unity and harmony of the country, apart from being against the secular principles of the JDU. Gandhiji would have strongly disapproved it.
— Pavan K. Varma (@PavanK_Varma) December 10, 2019
Earlier, on Monday night, the JD(U) vice president Prashant Kishor too had criticised the party over its support to the Bill.
Disappointed to see JDU supporting #CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion.
It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals.
— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) December 9, 2019
Rashtriya Janata Dal's (RJD) Tejaswi Yadav also hit out at Kumar, accusing him of being afraid of the BJP, RSS and said that the RJD will fight the bill.
Tejashwi Yadav, RJD on #CitizenshipAmendmentBill: We will strongly oppose the bill. It is a bill that will divide the country. We will fight against it. Nitish Kumar has again betrayed the people of Bihar by supporting the bill. Nitish Kumar is afraid of BJP&RSS. pic.twitter.com/PGwItF1ojK — ANI (@ANI) December 10, 2019
In Sikkim, footballer-turned-politician Bhaichung Bhutia expressed disappointment that the state was not excluded from the ambit of the Bill, unlike several other northeastern states and called on the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) to quit the NDA.
Bhutia, also working president of Hamro Sikkim Party, expressed his fears that the legislation will dilute special provisions of the Himalayan state that it enjoys under Article 371F of the Constitution. "This Bill is surely a way of diluting Article 371F in long run," he said.
He also urged the SKM-led government to press for implementing Inner Line Permit in the state and quit the NDA in protest against the passage of the Bill.
The Bill has also received criticism from international quarters. The USCIRF, a US federal government commission, on Tuesday released a statement condemning the Bill. It deemed the Bill as a "dangerous turn in the wrong direction" and has sought American sanctions against Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal Indian leadership if the bill with the "religious criterion" is passed by both houses of the Parliament.
Condemning the draft legislation, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan alleged that it is a part of "RSS Hindu Rashtra design."
We strongly condemn Indian Lok Sabha citizenship legislation which violates all norms of int human rights law & bilateral agreements with Pak. It is part of the RSS "Hindu Rashtra" design of expansionism propagated by the fascist Modi Govt. https://t.co/XkRdBiSp3G
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 10, 2019
BJP leader from Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma hit back at Khan asking him to change Pakistan from the Islamic Republic to a secular one and telling him to stay out of India's internal affairs.
Before advising Indian parliament or commenting on Hindu Rastra, Excellency,will you please change Pakistan from a Islamic Republic to a Secular Republic? If you can not then please do not waste your time with the internal matter of India like #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 https://t.co/5wU24pqQkA
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) December 10, 2019
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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2019 00:13:34 IST