With cabinet approving the controversial, Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) and ready to present it in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Opposition party, Congress’s parliamentary strategy group chaired by Sonia Gandhi will meet on Sunday to strategise on the bill, sources said.
The party is likely to strongly oppose the bill which is expected to be tabled on Monday.
The bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution in their home countries. However, many argue that Muslim minorities like the Ahemadiyas of Pakistan also face discrimination despite being Muslim, and hence providing citizenship on the basis of a person’s religion and not the sufferings faced by him/her is against the secular nature of India’s constitution. The bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said the party will oppose the bill.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said the National Register of Citizens and the CAB are two sides of the same coin and the Trinamool Congress will oppose it till the end.
Speaking at a party program in Kolkata, Banerjee said the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill were being taken up by the Centre to divert the attention of the people from the economic slowdown.
“If you give citizenship to all the communities, we will accept it. But if you discriminate on the basis of religion, we will oppose it and also fight against it,” the chief minister said.
Many leaders and NDA allies from north-eastern states have vehemently opposed the bill and would abstain from voting on the bill on Monday.
The bill will not be applicable in the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura that are included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Line System notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram. The bill is applicable to Manipur.
The final list of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on July 30, 2018 excluded around 40 lakh people. Of the 3.29 crore people who had filled in their applications, only 2.89 crore found their names in the draft list. The issue was raised in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session and was strongly opposed in north-eastern states with leaders protesting against the move.