BJP wooing Samajwadi, BSP to get RS nod to Citizenship Amendment Bill

BJP wooing Samajwadi, BSP to get RS nod to Citizenship Amendment Bill

Agency News

New Delhi, Feb 6 : Politics is certainly an art of possibilities.

After giving a major push to the politically volatile the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Presidential address, the BJP has reportedly enlisted 'support' from two major 'unlikely friendly parties' Samajwadi Party and Mayawati-led BSP to push the draft law that has been opposed by its allies in the north east.

"We want to go slow.....," a key Home Ministry source said here.

The BJP sources, however, told UNI that floor managers are engaged in intense negotiations with some key parties 'explaining them the merits of the Bill'.

The major developments on the legislative front come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a rally in Vijaypur in Jammu region - "There are so many children of Maa Bharti who have faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. We will stand with those who were part of India at one time, but got separated from us" - in reference to Partition in 1947 and their persecution in Pakistan and other neighbouring countries.

In his January 31 address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind said categorically that those people who were 'compelled' to seek refuge in India cannot be blamed and clubbed with infiltrators since they were victims of circumstances.

“These people cannot be blamed since they were victims of circumstances,” said the Presidential address giving a clear indication of the NDA government was not at all willing to shelve The Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Bill may be taken up in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passing next week - February 12 or 13. The ongoing Budget session concludes on February 13.

"The real parliamentary strategy on getting the House nod to the Bill is not yet clear," the source clarified.

The influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has strongly opposed the Bill along with at least 70 non political platforms and student bodies.

“It is the duty of all political parties to save the Assam Accord," said a AASU leader.

The BJP, which has 73 members in Rajya Sabha, has been apparently assured of support of 9 members from Biju Janata Dal, besides AIADMK (13), TRS (6), YSR Congress (2) and nominated (4) in favour of the Bill.

"We are talking to leaders from north east. During recent talks with a delegation led by Meghalaya Chief Minister and NPP leader Conrad Sangma, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on February 2 assured the delegation that the Centre would certainly keep the 'interest' of north east people in mind while piloting the draft law," the source said.

On this backdrop, in the larger interest of 'ousted people of Indian origin' - enlisting support from Samajwadi Party and BSP has become important, the source said.

Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party has 13 MPs and BSP has four.

Several NDA partners have opposed the Bill and AGP in Assam has already walked out of the alliance.

Sources said, however, there are no change in plans for Mr Rajnath Singh to hold meeting with all northeastern Chief Ministers.

"The proposed deliberations will be held on two fronts. Mr Singh may meet all northeastern Chief Ministers together and secondly, he will meet some of them individually," sources said.

"In fact, Mr Singh met Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu separately last week," the source said.

The Manipur Chief Minister reportedly made it clear that his state be left 'out of the provisions' of the Citizenship Bill if it is to become a law during the ongoing Budget session.

Mr Khandu in a tweet later wrote, “Called on to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singhji yesterday (Thursday) and briefed about the concerns of North Eastern states regarding Citizenship Bill along with CM Manipur N Biren Singh ji”.

In fact, prior to the President’s remarks on the vexed issue, the Congress firmed up its stand on the Bill after meeting a delegation of Assam Pradesh Congress leaders.

Congress stalwart Tarun Gogoi and PCC president Ripun Bora and State opposition leader Debabrata Saikia were among others who have urged the Congress party to oppose the draft law - which has been passed by the Lok Sabha.

The stakeholders including BJP legislators in states like Meghalaya and Manipur have condemned the Modi government for its alleged 'undemocratic push' to pass the Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8 much against the strong opposition of the whole northeast.

The draft law threatens the 'very existence of the indigenous people' of northeast region as a whole, they have said.

Despite acrimonious relations with Trinamool, Prime Minister Modi during his West Bengal visit told a gathering at Thakurnagar that even Mamata Banerjee's outfit should support the contentious bill in the Upper House.

Trinamool has 13 members and Congress 50. Several members from opposition parties had given their note of dissent to the report of the JPC that scrutinised the Bill since 2016.

"I state with great disappointment that this Bill is nothing but a futile exercise and at best NRC- part 2," said Congress MP from Silchar Sushmita Dev.

Trinamool MPs and Saugata Roy (Lok Sabha) and Derek O'Brien (Rajya Sabha) in identical note of dissent have said: "We feel that no names of genuine Indian citizens should have been deleted, we also strongly feel that the bill should not be past by mere majority since this is a political effort not necessitated by political realities in Assam and West Bengal".

Bhartuhari Mahatab, the BJD floor leader in the Lower House, in his note of dissent has said - "The population density in Assam is very high and if the present Bill is enacted and brought into force, illegal immigrants who have entered Assam and built their residences in the state and even encroached upon government land will become entitled to Indian citizenship".

The CPI-M member Mohammad Salim had also given his note of dissent. (UNI)