Citizenship Bill: BJP asks MPs to be in full attendance

At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Defence Minister Singh is learnt to have asked the party MPs to accord significance to the Bill similarly as the government gave to the move to take the special status of Jammu and Kashmir away abrogating the provisions of Article 370 there. Photo/PTI

Amid indications that the government could bring the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in this session of Parliament itself, senior party leader Rajnath Singh at a closed-door meeting of MP asked them to be in the House without fail when the Home Minister brings this Bill.

There is a buzz that the Bill could be okayed in a meeting of Union Cabinet on December 4 itself. Since the winter session ends on December 13, the Bill should be brought before the House this week if it has to be passed after discussion in this session.

At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, Defence Minister Singh is learnt to have asked the party MPs to accord significance to the Bill similarly as the government gave to the move to take the special status of Jammu and Kashmir away abrogating the provisions of Article 370 there.

Raising concerns over MPs being absent from the Houses, Singh who heads the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and is a member of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, apprised the MPs of the unhappiness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over lack of adequate attendance of the BJP members.

Singh was in particular very clear that all the MPs should be present in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha when the CAB will be brought there

The BJP first promised Citizenship Amendment Bill in its 2014 Lok Sabha poll manifesto. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in July 2016. It was sent to a Joint Parliamentary Committee headed in August 2016 by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal. JPC  submitted the report in January 2019.  Lok Sabha passed the Bill January 2019.

The Bill lapsed as it could not be tabled in Rajya Sabha before the last Lok Sabha got dissolved in June 2019. The Bill is a key promise that the BJP has made in its last Lok Sabha poll manifesto.

Singh also gave one or two lessons to the MPs on how to counter the Opposition criticism of the Bill being in contrivance to secular ethos of the country denying shelter to Muslims. Singh cited that India’s three neigbours—Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Islamic nations and hence it is non-Muslims and not Muslims who are at facing religious persecution there.

In the backdrop of a huge political row over BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s controversial “deshbhakt” remarks about Nathuram Godse, which embarrassed the party, Singh also had a word of caution for MPs to be careful in speech while countering the Opposition aggressively.

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