In what can be termed as a “diplomatic victory” for India, the European Parliament has decided not to conduct a vote on Thursday on a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
According to reports, it is learnt that Indian lobbyists prevailed over Pakistani lobbyists in the European Parliament on Wednesday, turning around the situation in favour of India.
The European Parliament on Wednesday decided to take up the voting against the Citizenship Amendment Act during its new session beginning March 2.
Government sources quoted by PTI called the deferment of the voting a “diplomatic victory”, adding that “friends of India prevailed over the friends of Pakistan” in the European Parliament on Wednesday.
India reached out to almost all countries of the powerful bloc, trying to persuade them against going ahead with the resolution against the CAA.
Sources said the European lawmakers agreed to delay the voting to get a direct perspective from about the CAA from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who is scheduled to visit Brussels to prepare the ground for Modi’s visit in mid-March.
Meanwhile, the deferment of the debate is also seen as an attempt to not jeopardise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels in March for a bilateral summit with the 28-member bloc.
The EU lawmakers also wanted to wait for judicial review of the contentious law by India’s Supreme Court.
Diplomatic sources said the vote on the resolution against the CAA may take place between March 30 and 31.
Six political groups of members of the European Parliament had moved a joint resolution against India’s citizenship law, calling it “discriminatory”.
A total of six resolutions have been tabled by groups within the European Union (EU), including the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE), Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE), European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), Renew Europe Group (Renew) and European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group.
As many as 626 of the 751 members of the EU Parliament moved six resolutions on CAA and Kashmir in a bid to pressure India.
These members had claimed that the enactment of the new law “marked a dangerous shift in India’s citizenship regime”.
“The CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering,” the resolution noted.
“Instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters,” it said.
The resolutions also urged the Indian authorities to “engage constructively” with those protesting against the law and consider their demands to repeal the “discriminatory CAA”.
The Indian government has maintained that the CAA, which was passed by the Parliament in December last, is an “internal matter of the country” and stressed that the goal is to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries. It has been extremely critical of the move in Brussels, which the European Commission — the executive arm of the economic bloc — has sought to distance itself from.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday wrote to European Parliament President David Maria Sassoli over the resolutions, saying it is “inappropriate for one legislature to pass judgement on another and the practice can be misused by vested interests”.
“As members of Inter Parliamentary Union, we should respect sovereign processes of fellow legislatures, especially in democracies,” Birla said in the letter.
Meanwhile, the European Commission had distanced itself from the resolutions put forth by its members.
“The European Parliament is an independent institution, sovereign in the organization of its work and in its deliberations. The texts referred to are draft resolutions by political groups in the European Parliament,” it had reportedly stated.
A spokeswoman for EU Foreign and Security Policy also clarified that “the opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its members do not represent the official position of the European Union (EU).”
The resolutions against India were pushed by Pakistan-origin British member of European Parliament Shaffaq Mohammad, close to the Imran Khan establishment in Islamabad.
“Strenuous efforts of outgoing British MEP, Shaffaq Mohammad to have a Resolution passed by the European Parliament against India on the penultimate day before Brexit was defeated,” a source said.
The CAA came into force in India last December amid massive protests in India.
The new law, passed by Parliament last month, offers citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. India has been witnessing massive protests against the new law with opposition parties, civil rights groups and activists saying granting citizenship based on religion is against the foundational principle of the Constitution.
The Government has been emphasising that the new law does not deny any citizenship rights, but has been brought to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries and give them citizenship.
(With agency inputs)