Votes from BJD, JD(U), AIADMK, YSR help BJP pass CAB in RS
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Votes from BJD, JD(U), AIADMK, YSR help BJP pass CAB in RS

Agency News

The support from a few non-NDA parties was crucial for BJP-led NDA to pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) to pass the Rajya Sabha test.

Even top BJP leaders were nervous whether they can secure non-NDA parties’ support or not towards the Bill. The pressure mounted by the opposition parties has put many NDA leaders in confusion over voting. Shiv Sena made flip-flops several times over the Bill and finally walked out of Rajya Sabha. JDU vice president Prashant Kishor also mounted immense pressure on JD(U) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to vote against NDA over CAB. But Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stood solid behind BJP.

Strong campaign was there in Tamil Nadu against AIADMK leadership to vote against Modi government. Film start Siddharth warned AIADMK leaders about supporting the CAB. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar raised the issue of dropping Sri Lankan Tamil’s from the CAB. However, Tamil Nadu CM Palanisami and Pannerselvam decided to support the Bill. The contentious bill, aimed at amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship, was finally passed by the Rajya Sabha with a crucial support from not just the BJP’s partner the Janata Dal (United) but also from non-NDA members like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Overall, it was passed with 125 votes in favour of it and 105 votes in its opposition . It were votes from the JD(U) and BJD that perhaps were the most crucial to swing the whole deal in BJP’s favour. The two parties together had 11 members in the house and though both these parties had voted in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha as well, there were speculations over at least the JD(U) reconsidering its position a day after the bill was passed in the lower House.

The Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had till recently been in opposition of the National Register for Citizens (NRC) and CAB, notwithstanding its alliance with the BJP, holding that the move discriminated against the Muslim population and could trigger massive unrest in the northeast. When the party voted for the legislation in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the support brought internal disagreements to the fore with party vice-president Prashant Kishore expressing disappointment moments after the passage of the bill in the lower House, saying the legislation discriminates against people "on the basis of religion".

Although the JD(U) MPs clearly indicated that there was no change in the party's position on the issue, Kumar’s silence encouraged speculations that if the party decided to make a U-turn, the going might get tough for the BJP. Eventually, however, it turned out well for the saffron party. Contrary to this, it was less likely for the BJD to vote against the bill after having voted in favour of it the Lok Sabha. Similarly, All India Anna David Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which was under pressure after criticism for supporting the bill despite the fact that it excluded Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, contributed 11 consequential votes to the ruling party’s kitty.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena, which had supported the bill in Lok Sabha, shifted its position before staging a walkout during voting in Rajya Sabha.

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