Citizenship bill as important as Article 370 abrogation: Rajnath at BJP meeting

Jammu and Kashmir, Article 370, Pakistan, Rajnath Singh, locus standi
The issue of absenteeism among BJP MPs from Parliament was also raised at the parliamentary party meeting. Photo: PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of adequate presence of BJP MPs during Parliament sessions, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said while discussing the issue of absenteeism at the parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday (December 3).

Sources said Singh also asked the party’s MPs to not skip the sessions when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be tabled by Home Minister Amit Shah, as he asserted that this draft legislation is as important as the move to abrogate Article 370.

Also read | Citizenship Bill: Amit Shah holds meet with Northeast CMs, civil society

The defence minister further asserted the saffron party has always worked to unite the country and its citizens, while rejecting the criticisms that the Bill faced from the opposition camp. The Citizenship Bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there.

Sources said Singh also made a reference to the charge that the bill was against secularism as its beneficiaries excluded Muslims. He said the three neighbouring countries were essentially Islamic nations and so it is non-Muslims and not Muslims who are at the receiving end of religious persecution there.

Also read | Citizenship bill protests fail to make difference in Assam, rest of Northeast

Asking the BJP MPs to ensure their presence in Parliament as it is going to take up key bills in the coming days, Singh said the prime minister had time and again spoken against absenteeism among the parliamentarians but the issue persists.

He also cautioned them against using unparliamentary words during their intervention in Parliament and said they should be aggressive in countering the opposition but not go to the extent of what the Congress, the BJPs main rival, does.

Also read | CAB protests: Journalists explain what press freedom means in Northeast

His remarks came against the backdrop of party MP Pragya Thakur being forced to apologise in the Lok Sabha for her comments on Mahatma Gandhis assassin Nathuram Godse. The BJP subsequently barred her from attending its parliamentary party meeting during the ongoing session.

Woman and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, in her address, highlighted the efforts of her ministry in fighting malnutrition among pregnant women and infants, and said it had organised a record 3.5 lakh events in a month in this regard.

(With inputs from agencies)