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“Diplomatic victory for India,” say govt sources as EU Parliament defers vote on CAA motion

The European Parliament in session in Brussels on January 29, 2020.

The European Parliament in session in Brussels on January 29, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Sources in the government called the vote being put off a “diplomatic victory for India”, and blamed Pakistan, and in particular one British MEP Shaffaq Mohammad for bringing the six different resolutions.

Members of the European Parliament began a discussion over a joint motion criticising India’s Citizenship Act on January 29 night. In partial relief for the government, however, MEPs decided not to hold a vote on the joint motion until the second half of March 2020.

On March 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to visit Brussels for the EU-India summit, and an amendment moved by MEP Michael Gahler of the European People’s Party (EPP) sought the time so as to ensure that India could engage with the MEPs on the motion. “The issue is ongoing as the Supreme Court has asked the government a number of questions and we should await their answers. We will also have the opportunity to speak directly to Indian government ministers about the Citizenship Law in February,” said Mr. Gahler, referring to the upcoming visit to Brussels by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, while proposing the postponement.

Sources in the government called the vote being put off a “diplomatic victory for India”, and blamed Pakistan, and in particular one British MEP Shaffaq Mohammad for bringing the six different resolutions criticising India to the European Parliament, just days before Britain is due to exit the European Union.

Neither the discussion nor the vote can be enforced by the EU parliament on India, but they could become a cause for strain in ties even as the EU and India seek to energise relations and revive free trade talks.

CAA is an internal matter: India

“CAA is a matter internal to India and has been adopted through a due process through democratic means. We expect that our perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs,” the sources said.

However MEPs who asked for the delay said they had wanted time in order to study the resolutions before voting, and didn’t want to impact EU-India relations without a full study.

Also read: Lok Sabha Speaker seeks to stall EU debate on CAA

“In my view, the European Parliament is not yet fully familiar with all the details necessary to objectively pass judgements,” EPP from the Czech Republic Tomasz Zdechovsky, who also pushed for the delay in the vote, explained to The Hindu. “The date of the debate should be rescheduled to at least after March 13, when Indian PM Narendra Modi shares his thoughts with the Members of the European Parliament. This is a precondition without which the resolution would not be competent,” he added.

With 182 members, the EPP is the largest group in the 751-member European Parliament, and two other groups including Identity and Democracy, and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) were ranged on India’s side as well, while the remaining four groups were keen to table and vote on the resolution. In the vote on the Gahler amendment, 271 voted in favour of delaying the vote till the March 15-18 session and 199 voted to continue with the vote on January 30.

As The Hindu had reported earlier, diplomats from the Indian Embassy in Brussels had reached out to scores of MEPs and groups over the past week to try and stall the resolutions, tone down the harsh language in them and to put off if not cancel any voting on them. The final joint motion retains fairly critical language accusing the government of a “brutal crackdown” on anti-CAA protestors, torture of those detained, internet shutdowns and the “discriminatory” nature of the CAA. The motion urges the government to repeal the law and reconsider including other persecuted minority groups in the region as well. The government has repeatedly rejected all such statements and said that CAA is “an internal matter” for India.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 6:19:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/members-of-european-parliament-defer-vote-on-motion-against-citizenship-amendment-act/article30687342.ece

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