Govt not to press for Citizenship Bill in RS

Govt not to press for Citizenship Bill in RS

Government is unlikely to push for the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha in the Budget Session as the ruling BJP is facing trouble in the north-eastern states and even its Bihar ally JD(U) announcing that it will vote against the proposed legislation.

The Bill seeking to provide citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and was passed in Lok Sabha earlier this month during the Winter Session. If the Rajya Sabha does not clear the Bill, it will lapse at the end of the tenure of current Lok Sabha in early June.

Sources said the government is not going to press for passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha and have conveyed this to the Opposition. Opposition leaders have described it as a "big win" though they said the BJP would try to whip up a communal frenzy over the issue.

The Opposition has been objecting to the Bill saying that the amendment is bringing religion-angle into the issue and questioned why Muslims are not included to be given citizenship.

Soon after the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha, Assam witnessed large-scale violence and NDA ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) withdrew support for the BJP-led government. Other BJP allies in the north-eastern states also stepped up the pressure and held a meeting when they threatened to pull out of the NDA in case the BJP moved ahead with the legislation.

The north-eastern states are of the view that the amendments will end up in changing the demography of these states. The proposed legislation has set  December 31, 2014, as the cut-off date for the minorities in the three neighbouring countries for applying to the citizenship.

On the Triple Talaq Bill, sources said the government will bring a bill to replace the ordinance. However, with strong Opposition against the Bill in the Upper House, it is unlikely to clear in Rajya Sabha. In such a scenario, the government may once again bring an ordinance.

Both of these bills are being used by the BJP as prominent campaign issues against the Congress and other Opposition parties. These two bills were also mentioned by President Ram Nath Kovind in his speech to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Thursday at the start of Budget Session.