Published On: Sun, Dec 8th, 2019

Citizenship Amendment Bill to be introduced in Lok Sabha by Amit Shah tomorrow

New Delhi: The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will be introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah

This Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by the Lower House of the Parliament earlier this year but lapsed with the term of the previous Lok Sabha.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday issued a three-line whip to its members in Lok Sabha asking them to be present in the House from December 9 till 12.

On the other hand, the Congress parliamentary strategy group is slated to meet at the residence of party chief Sonia Gandhi here today to deliberate the party’s stance on the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

If passed by Parliament, it will amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 introducing exceptional provisions for acquiring citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was first introduced in 2016 by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi but was withdrawn after an alliance partner withdrew support and protests flared in India’s remote and ethnically diverse northeastern region.

Giving Indian citizenship to “Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs escaping persecution” was part of the manifesto of Modi’s ruling BJP ahead of a general election in May 2019 that the nationalist leader swept.

Critics have called the proposed law anti-Muslim, and some opposition parties have also pushed back, arguing citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion.

The passage of the bill, which will be introduced in parliament on Monday, will also be a test for the BJP, since it enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha but is short of numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Any bill needs to be ratified by both houses of India’s parliament to become law.

In Assam, a northeastern state that was the epicentre of protests, some students groups said they were still opposed to the law, fearing that tens of thousands of Hindu migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh would gain citizenship.

“We do not support CAB and shall launch a vigorous mass agitation across Assam and the Northeast,” All Assam Students’ Union Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya told Reuters.

Assam’s Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said that there would be amendments in the bill to help ease regional concerns. “But since CAB is for the whole of India, there cannot be a separate bill for the Northeast,” he said.

However he did not give details.

Inputs with Agencies

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