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Don’t be defensive on CAA: Modi to allies

PUBLISHED ON JAN 31, 2020 11:20 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Ahead of what portends to be a stormy budget session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting with members of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance on Friday and reiterated that the government has no reason to be defensive about the contentious citizenship (amendment) act, a person privy to the meeting said.

“Had an excellent meeting with the NDA family. Our alliance represents India’s diversity and dynamism. NDA has made a mark for its pro-people and good governance related development programmes that are empowering millions,” the Prime Minister tweeted later in the day.

A resolution hailing the PM for the Bodo accord and settlement of Bru tribe members in Tripura, reading down of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, opening of the Kartarpur corridor and passage of the CAA was also passed by the NDA allies.

Referring to the meeting, LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan said the allies are united and stand behind the PM.

During the budget session, scheduled to begin on Saturday, the BJP has not only a confrontational opposition to contend with, but is working equally hard to contain the discontent brewing within the NDA fold over the proposed National Population Register and the concerns over CAA. For instance, the BJP ally, Shiromani Akali Dal, has called for making the legislation inclusive.

According to people aware of the details, during the meeting, which was also attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, the Lok Janshakti Party, the Janata Dal United and the SAD suggested that details that will be sought as part of the NPR should not seek disclosures about the date and place of birth of parents. Another ally, Apna Dal, has sought inclusion of caste as a factor for the upcoming Census, the people quoted above said.

Earlier this week, the Janata Dal (United), the NDA ally in Bihar, had urged the Centre to drop columns pertaining to birth dates and places of parents in the National Population Register (NPR) form.

“After the allies raised concerns, the home minister assured everyone that there is no such proposal to seek such details and that the column will be left blank, but some members said that the government should make it amply clear that no questions will be asked about the antecedents of parents,” the person quoted above said.

The allies also insisted that the pattern of seeking information should be the same as was in the 2011 NPR exercise, and no new information should be sought.

While the Opposition on Friday disrupted the President’s address, where he hailed the CAA as “historic”, the allies are learnt to have told the BJP that they support the party and the legislation, but the government must address their concerns.

“The meeting was cordial, we are all part of a family. We have been standing with the government on all issues including the CAA, but we have our own concerns, which we feel the government must address. As for the issues raised by the opposition, the government must address those as well,” said an alliance partner leader who attended the meeting.

The BJP, for its part, said it is ready to address all concerns. Party general secretary Bhupender Yadav said the BJP is ready for debate and discussion and will answer all queries posed by the opposition.

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