Citizenship Bill forces JD(U), Sena to speak in two voices

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis cautioned the Shiv Sena against coming under pressure from the Congress over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Photo: PTI File

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has put JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar in a spot with two senior leaders raising questions over the party’s support to the BJP for the Bill’s passage in Lok Sabha. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena supremo and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday (December 10) made a U-turn saying the party won’t support the Bill until some of its questions are answered.

Thackeray’s statement comes a day after the party voted with the government to pass the Bill in Lok Sabha, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys an abundant majority.

Meanwhile, former BJP allay Shiv Sena informing Opposition parties that it will oppose the bill, said the notion that one who supports the Bill is a patriot and one who opposes it is anti-national should be reversed.

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Earlier on Tuesday, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said his party might take a different stand in the Rajya Sabha after voting in favour of the citizenship bill in the Lower House. Sena, which has just three MPs in Rajya Sabha is unlikely to dent the Centre’s chances of seeing the bill through.

Also read | Protests rock Assam, Arunachal, Tripura over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

The Modi government needs to worry about the economy, job crisis and rising cost of living, especially the onions price rise, more than the implementation of the Bill, Thackeray said. The Sena has suggested changes it wants to be included in the Bill in Rajya Sabha, he said. “Where will these refugees stay… in which state. All this should be clarified,” he added.

Fadnavis taunts Sena

Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday cautioned the Shiv Sena against coming under pressure from the Congress over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, said Shiv Sena should not come under pressure from Congress in order to save the state government while taking stand on issues like CAB and NRC. “Shiv Sena should stick to its old stand on CAB and NRC and not change it to save the Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) government,” he said.

JD(U) stands divided

Meanwhile, JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was questioned by Party vice-president Prashant Kishor and general secretary Pavan K Varma over the party voting in favour of the Bill in Lok Sabha.

“I urge Shri Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the #CAB in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the unity and harmony of the country, apart from being against the secular principles of the JD(U). Gandhiji would have strongly disapproved it,” tweeted Varma who is also the party’s national spokesman.

However, it isn’t clear about which way the JD(U) will vote in Rajya Sabha. Speaking to mediapersons, Varma said, “I will be in touch with my leader but that is between me and the party.”

Another JD(U) spokesman Rajiv Ranjan Prasad sought to defuse the controversy, saying, “Our party is democratic hence there is not a gag order. Some senior leaders have expressed their personal views. The party took its official stand after factoring in that the persecuted minorities from the adjoining countries should get help from India. Moreover, the assumption that this legislation discriminates against Muslims is unfounded. Even if a Muslim in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh needs help, there has been a system in place to grant political asylum. And that system will not go away with the (passage of) the Bill,” he added.

Also read | Political expedience guiding regional parties from Andhra, Telangana on CAB

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