Europe House resolution likely to be critical of CAA, India dismisses move
The final resolution on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) to be taken up by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on January 29 is expected to be “critical”, a spokesperson for the European Parliament said on Monday even as the Indian government pushed back against the move.
Six separate resolutions have been tabled by the largest groups of the MEPs, which are very critical of India’s amended citizenship law, and efforts are underway to frame a joint version that will be debated and voted on by the European Parliament on January 30.
Neil Corlett, head of the press unit at the European Parliament, told a regular news briefing in Brussels the issue of India’s citizenship law will come up for a debate and a vote on Thursday, and there would also be a statement by Josep Borrell, the European Union’s (EU) high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
“The resolution is likely to be critical of India’s new controversial citizenship law, which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants but risks discriminating against the Muslim minority,” Corlett said.
The European People’s Party Group, a center-right group that is the largest with 182 MEPs, and the Socialists and Democrats Group, the second-largest group with 154 MEPs in the 751-member parliament, have been very critical of the CAA, saying it has negative consequences for India’s internal stability and the potential for creating the “largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
In New Delhi, the government dismissed the move by the MEPs as interference in the country’s internal matters. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters the CAA and the security lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir, which figure in the various resolutions, were “internal matters” and external affairs minister S Jaishankar will soon speak to the MEPs to explain India’s position.
“The government has already explained this is an internal matter...even the prime minister has [said this],” Prasad said. “Let me ask a counter-question...have my esteemed friends in the EU Parliament sought to raise questions over the victimisation of Hindu girls and Sikh granthis in Pakistan? It is time they were objective.”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu, too, reacted sharply with the former writing a letter to David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament. In his letter, Birla pointed out that the CAA was passed after debate and voting in both Houses of Indian Parliament before it became a law. He also added that passage of the law is considered as a symbol of independence of democracy and such a resolution is highly inappropriate and it will set a bad precedent for the future.
Naidu also slammed the move and said, “Recently, some efforts are being made outside India to comment on some laws made by the Parliament and to raise some issues based on inadequate knowledge and insufficient understanding of the issues sought to be addressed by our lawmakers. Such efforts are totally uncalled for and unwarranted.”
“As a mature Republic and democratic polity, we are capable of addressing the concerns... our citizens and we need no advice or guidance in such matters from others,” he said.
There was also support for New Delhi from some of its allies in the EU, with French officials saying the CAA is “India’s internal political matter”. They noted France is a founding member of the EU and had stated its position on the CAA on several occasions.
“The European Parliament is an institution independent of member states and the European Commission,” an official said.
Even if the resolution is passed by the European Parliament, it will not be binding on the European Commission. However, it can increase pressure on the Indian government at a time when it is grappling with strong criticism from Western powers, including key EU members such as Germany, of its handling of the situation in Kashmir, the CAA and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam.