With Union Home Minister Amit Shah set to introduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Monday, the ruling BJP has issued whip to all its Lok Sabha members to remain present in the House for three days starting from December 9. The whip, asking all BJP MPs to be present in the House, has been issued, a source said. The bill to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act will be introduced in Parliament in the afternoon, and later in the day it will be taken up for discussion and passage, according to the Lok Sabha's List of Business for Monday.
The bill is set to sail through smoothly in the Lok Sabha, as the BJP has 303 MPs in the 545-member House.
What is Citizenship (Amendment) Bill?
The bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 proposes 5-year period required to stay in India for claiming citizenship, even after illegally entering India. At present, it is mandatory for a person to stay in India for at least 11 years of the 14 years from the date of his/her application to get citizenship of India.
According to the Bill Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014 will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India even if found to be living without valid documents.
The Bill seeks to change the definition of illegal immigrants on the basis of religion which opposition saying it violates Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
Indigenous people of the Northeastern states fear that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood. Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill posters were pasted outside the residences of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Chabua and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) brought out a torch light procession from its headquarters in the state capital and toured through the streets of central Guwahati. Leading the march, AASU Chief Adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said the state will not accept the Bill in any form.
Torch light processions were also organised by the AASU in places such as Nalbari town, Dimakuchi in Udalguri district and Lakhimpur to protest against the Bill.
Senior Congress leader and Parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament will mark the definitive victory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah's thinking over that of Mahatma Gandhi's, asserting that the exercise of granting citizenship on the basis of religion will reduce India to a "Hindutva version of Pakistan".
Tharoor said even if the bill is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, he is confident that no bench of the Supreme Court will allow such a "blatant violation" of the fundamental tenets of India's Constitution to go unchecked.
"Mahatma Gandhi, (Jawaharlal) Nehru, Maulana (Abul Kalam) Azad, Dr Ambedkar believed the opposite, that religion had nothing to do with nationhood. Theirs was the idea of India and they created a free country for all people of all religions, regions, castes and languages," Tharoor said.
The Constitution reflects this basic idea of India which the BJP now seeks to betray, he alleged.