‘Divisive’: BSP chief Mayawati shreds Citizenship Bill’s ‘current form’
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has said that her party is against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in its current form and suggested the Centre to send it to the parliamentary committee.
“BSP is against the current form of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the government should reconsider aspects of the bill and it should be sent to the parliamentary committee,” she said at a press conference in Lucknow on Thursday.
She said that the Centre has brought CAB in a hurry and it is “unconstitutional and divisive”. “It is against the dream and constitution of BR Ambedkar. The CAB is being forced on the country,” the BSP chief said.
Mayawati asserted that if the central government takes decisions in favour of the welfare of people, the BSP will support it just the way the party supported abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
By speaking against CAB, Mayawati, who had so far not clarified her party’s stand, has joined the Congress-led Opposition, which includes Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Left parties, Telugu Desam Party and Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The bill, cleared by the Cabinet on Wednesday, is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 9 and will be taken up for passage the next day, government sources said on Thursday.
It seeks to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, Sikhs and Christians - from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. After clearing Lok Sabha, the bill will go to Rajya Sabha or Upper House of Parliament.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has an absolutely majority in the Lower house. The Opposition, which is stronger in the Rajya Sabha, hopes to stall the bill in the Upper house.
A senior Congress strategist said the party would try and get the bill sent to a select committee for scrutiny even as government managers have indicated during informal interactions that they want the CAB to be passed in the ongoing session.
Trinamool Congress’s (TMC) Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’Brien refused to spell out the party’s stand on the CAB “...from what we know, the BJP is bringing the bill for cheap, narrow gains. We will spell out our stand on the floor of the House.”
The TMC has 13 members in the current 238-member Upper house. The Biju Janata Dal, which has seven MPs in the Upper House, is also undecided. “Only after the bill comes to the House will our leader Naveen Patnaik take a call,” said Amar Patnaik, senior party leader in the Rajya Sabha.
The senior Congress strategist added that Samajwadi Party has indicated it would oppose the bill and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) signalled its intent to join the Opposition. “The response of the TRS is the best news for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, a BJP leader, who is also a member of the Rajya Sabha where the BJP and its allies have 116 seats, said the party is confident of getting the support of 122 MPs and is expecting more. The current strength of the House is 238.
In the last session, the BJP exploited fissures within the Opposition ranks and managed to clear two landmark bills and the resolution to scrap Article 370. The Triple Talaq bill and the one to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir state was cleared as the Opposition bench was divided.
The Congress has so far maintained that it is opposed to CAB on the basis of religion. But the party on Wednesday said it will formulate its stand on the bill after going through the draft. “We will have to see in what form, manner the bill is brought, then we will decide on our stand...,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.