Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: Abstained from voting as government didn’t give satisfactory answers, says Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut speaks to the media at Parliament House on December 11, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The Shiv Sena on December 11 staged a walkout ahead of voting on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, citing unsatisfactory response to the queries raised by the party.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed by Rajya Sabha on December 11. Lok Sabha cleared the bill late on December 9.

Justifying the move, seen as a U-turn after the party voted in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha on December 9, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the government did not give satisfactory answers to the concerns raised by the party.

The change in the stance comes a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed displeasure over the Sena backing the bill in the Lok Sabha. “The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” Mr. Gandhi had tweeted.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had then said the Sena won’t back the bill in the Rajya Sabha till there is clarity on the party’s queries posed in the Lok Sabha.

The Shiv Sena is in alliance with the Congress and the NCP, both of whom voted against the bill.

Participating in the discussion on the bill in Rajya Sabha, where the Shiv Sena has three members, Mr. Raut said the party does not need to prove how “staunch Hindu” and “patriotic” it is and asserted that it is headmaster in the “school” of Hindutva where BJP leaders “study”.

In his brief speech, senior Mr. Raut said, “Since yesterday I am hearing that those not supporting the Bill are traitors and are speaking the language of Pakistan.”

“We don’t need any certificate to prove how patriotic we are and how staunch Hindu we are. We are headmaster in a school (Hindutva) that you study. Our school headmaster was Bal Thackeray and Atal (Bihari Vajpayee)ji and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We believe in them,” he added.

He was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported comment that some parties were speaking in the same language as Pakistan on the bill.

Rebutting the Prime Minister’s remarks, Mr. Raut said, “This is not the Pakistan assembly. People in India have voted for members sitting in the treasury as well as opposition benches. If you don’t like Pakistan’s language, there is a majority government which can eliminate Pakistan. We are with you.”

Addressing the BJP parliamentary meeting on December 11 morning, Mr. Modi said some political parties were speaking the same language as Pakistan, “including the full stop and comma”.

Mr. Raut, whose party is a former ally of the BJP, further said, “We should discuss this Bill under the prism of humanity, and not religion. There is a difference between intruders and refugees.” He said there should not be any “vote-bank politics” while giving citizenship to non-Muslim minorities under the Bill and added that there will be “some balance” if voting rights are not given to them for 25 years.

Congress happy

The Congress is happy that the Shiv Sena did not vote in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, senior party leader P. Chidambaram said.

The Shiv Sena, which voted in favour of the controversial bill in the Lok Sabha, opposed it in the Rajya Sabha, saying the draft law should have been debated on the basis of “humanity not religion”.

Asked about the change in Sena’s stand, Mr. Chidambaram said, “We are certainly happy that the Shiv Sena did not vote in favour of the bill”.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 12:45:17 PM |

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