Voting on CAA resolution in European Parliament postponed to March
The European Parliament on Wednesday decided to put off a vote on a resolution critical of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) to a session beginning on March 2, a move that is being seen as linked to the upcoming India-EU Summit next month.
The Parliament decided to go ahead with a debate on the CAA from midnight on Thursday. A statement by the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, will be part of the debate.
As the plenary session of the European Parliament got underway, the Identity and Democracy (ID) Group – a far-right grouping whose Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were part of a controversial visit to Kashmir arranged by the government last October – called for the resolution to be withdrawn because it was “very badly timed”, especially since India’s Supreme Court is hearing challenges to the CAA.
This proposal was voted down by a majority of the 483 MEPs present in the House.
The European People’s Party (EPP) Group, the largest group in the Parliament that is backing the resolution, said the debate should go ahead as scheduled but voting should be postponed to the session beginning on March 2. This proposal was accepted by a vote of 271 to 199.
An EPP representative said it wanted the postponement because India’s Supreme Court has asked the government to clarify issues and MEPs should wait so that they could fairly evaluate the law. The postponement will also give MEPs time to interact with Indian ministers visiting Brussels in February, the EPP said.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar is expected to visit Brussels next month to prepare the ground for the EU-India Summit, which is expected to be held on March 13. People familiar with developments said the voting is now expected to be held after the summit. A potentially adverse outcome in the voting could have cast a shadow on the summit.
Over the past few days, India had mounted a sustained diplomatic outreach to explain its position on the CAA to MEPs. India has insisted that the law is an internal matter but had also said it was willing to engage with the MEPs on the issue.
The people cited above described the postponement of voting on the resolution as a diplomatic victory for India, adding that the Friends of India group had prevailed over the Friends of Pakistan group in the European Parliament.
“Strenuous efforts of outgoing British MEP Shaffaq Mohammad to have a resolution passed against India on the penultimate day before Brexit were defeated,” a person who declined to be identified said.
“The CAA is a matter internal to India and has been adopted through a due process through democratic means. We expect our perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs,” the person added.