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Citizenship Amendment Bill | Congress to vote against controversial legislation

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High-level meeting raises need for ‘holistic’ refugee policy

The Congress, which held a high-level meeting on Saturday to discuss its final stand on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, has decided to vote against the legislation in Parliament and demand a “holistic” and “comprehensive” policy on refugees and illegal immigrants.

The meeting was attended by senior party leaders Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal from the Rajya Sabha and Gaurav Gogoi and Manish Tewari from the Lok Sabha.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not attend the meeting, since she was not well. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was away in Kerala.

In January, when an earlier version of the Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha, the Congress walked out instead of voting against the legislation. However, this time the party has concluded that, regardless of the numbers, it shall stand and be counted while voting against the legislation.

“We oppose the Bill as it stands constituted in the present form. We are for a holistic, comprehensive and inclusive legislation on the question of refugees and illegal immigrants,” Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari told The Hindu.

Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the party would move the Supreme Court against the legislation since it was against the basic tenet of the Constitution.

When the party raises the need for a comprehensive refugee policy, it will also raise the fact that Tamil refugees, who constitute the biggest share of refugee population in India, have been kept out of the ambit of the present legislation. The Gorkhas from Nepal too have been excluded.

“It has been India’s ethos to stand by those who have been persecuted and brutalised and those fleeing tyranny and oppression. We can’t discriminate among them on the basis of their religion or country of origin,” a senior party leader said.

The Congress leaders said their arguments would be based on Article 14 of the Constitution, which says the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. “It [th Bill] is, therefore, blatantly and brazenly unconstitutional,” the leader added.

The Bill is an attempt to communalise the national narrative, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said, “The government wants to use this Bill to completely deflect attention from its abject failure in delivering on its promises and the collapse of economy. They don’t want to talk about job losses or the agrarian crisis which is why they are bringing in this divisive Bill,” Mr. Sharma said.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 11:53:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/citizenship-amendment-bill-congress-to-vote-against-controversial-legislation/article30233022.ece

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