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Upendra Bharti | HENB | Mumbai | Dec 10, 2019:: While the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) sailed through the Lok Sabha very smoothly on Monday with 311-80 votes, the BJP-led NDA garnered the outside support of BJD, AIADMK, TDP and YSR-CP and obviously from its traditional ally Shiv Sena now not at the side of treasury bench.
Eventually, the ideological differences between the Maharashtra’s new allies, the Shiv Sena and NCP-Congress, came to the fore when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
While the Shiv Sena supported citizenship for immigrant Hindus, it also opposed the granting of any voting rights to illegal ‘intruders’. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party’s ‘middle line’ stand is in stark contrast to the Congress and NCP, which have categorically opposed the bill.
Holding the Hindutva line as propounded by Sena Founder Bal Thackeray, taking part in the CAB debate in Lok Sabha, Sena MP hinted the Bill as like a safeguard for the persecuted minority Hindu-Sikh-Jain-Bhuddhist-Christians in the neighboring countries like Afghanistan-Pakistan-&-Bangladesh.
But, Sena said that people who get Indian citizenship under the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill should not be granted voting rights for 25 years.
Leading the Sena charge in the Lok Sabha, Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha constituency, Vinayak Raut remarked “Ghuspaithiyon ko bahar nikalna humari zimmedaari hai (it is our responsibility to evict infiltrators). But, we want to know how many have come from these countries and have sought refuge. The nation is already short of resources. If these people are being given citizenship, that is fine, but don’t give them voting rights for 25 years.”
Questioning the inclusion of Afghanistan in the bill, the Sena MP added that although Northeastern states have been excluded from the purview of the bill, people there were still afraid that their land would be taken away. Vinayak Raut further said that “since refugees cannot be resettled in the Northeast, where will you resettle them? What is the policy for that?”
Another Sena MP of Rajya Sabha, Sanjay Raut, was of the view that besides Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Hind Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka should also be allowed to get Indian citizenship.
Earlier Sanjay Raut had tweeted, “Illegal Intruders should be thrown out. Immigrant Hindus must be given citizenship, but let’s give rest to allegations of creating vote and not give them voting rights, what say? And yes what about pandits, have they gone back to Kashmir after article 370 was removed? (sic)”
The Citizen Amendment Bill 2019 seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there.
Sena having 18 MPs in Lok Sabha with its Non-RSS Hindutva stand on the bill was being closely watched by BJP as their old ally Shiv Sena now heads a coalition government in Maharashtra with the NCP and Congress.
On Monday, Shiv Sena was the centre of attention with the party supporting the bill’s introduction, but setting out several caveats and conditions pertinently. Again Shiv Sena will be in the center of attention on Wednesday-Thrusday in Rajya Sabha with its three MPs there.
If BJP took some lesson of Maharashtra fiasco and made up its mind to hear Shiv Sena properly, the passage of the CAB in Rajya Sabha would be a success story, otherwise a difficult one.