Congress discontent may have forced Sena to change stance on citizenship bill
The Sena on Monday voted in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha, but on Tuesday afternoon, Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray backtracked, saying they had apprehensions over a few issues and would not back the bill in the Rajya Sabha until their concerns were addressedUpdated: Dec 12, 2019 08:47 IST
The discontent of the Congress forced the Shiv Sena to change its stance on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Tuesday, a day after voting in its favour.
The Sena on Monday voted in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha, but on Tuesday afternoon, Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray backtracked, saying they had apprehensions over a few issues and would not back the bill in the Rajya Sabha until their concerns were addressed. During the vote in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Sena’s three MPs staged a walkout.
According to a senior state Congress leader, the party leadership reached out to its new ally, stating their stand over the bill in the Lok Sabha was uncalled for. “One of our senior central leaders was in Mumbai and he spoke to Thackeray. The chat came in the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi’s tweet in the afternoon. Thackeray then gave a reaction that the Sena would oppose the bill in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Gandhi’s tweet read: “The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation.” Thackeray said, “We raised some questions over the bill, but our questions were not answered in the Lok Sabha. We will not support the bill unless the doubts are cleared. We do not take a stand to woo anybody.”
The Shiv Sena formed the government in Maharashtra with support from the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) last month. Apprehensive about the Shiv Sena’s ideology of Hindutva, the Congress had initially expressed its inability to extend support to a Thackeray-led government. The Congress’s condition was the government would work within the secular framework of the Constitution and the Sena should not continue with its hardline Hindutva while running the government. The three parties came out with a common minimum programme and vowed to run the government on secular principles.
On Tuesday morning, Sena leader and Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut had announced that his party supported the bill in the interest of the country. Party MP Arvind Sawant had said: “The decision to vote in favour of the bill was taken in the interest of the nation.”
Raut on Wednesday asserted the government will have to answer their queries, before expecting support from his party.
Officially, the Sena maintains it is “not satisfied” with Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement on the bill in the Lok Sabha. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Raut said that “nobody needs to teach the Shiv Sena a lesson on nationalism”. In a veiled attack on the BJP, he said they are the “headmasters” of the “school” they studied in. He added the “headmasters were Balasaheb Thackeray, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Syama Prasad Mookerjee”. “We raised the issues regarding the bill, but we were not satisfied with the reply of the union home minister and walked out,” sail Anil Desai, Rajya Sabha MP. On being asked if walking out indirectly helped the ruling party, Desai said, “We did not vote in favour of the bill.”
Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Husain Dalwai and former state minister Arif Naseem Khan said on Tuesday that they did not expect the Sena to support the bill.