Sena flip-flops on Citizenship Bill, may change its vote in Rajya Sabha

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi at a protest rally against the Citizenship Bill in Dibrugarh on Tuesday. PTI
A day before the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was set to be discussed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, there were widespread protests against the proposed law in the Northeast. There was also dissent within the Janata Dal (United) for supporting it in the Lok Sabha (LS) and the Shiv Sena indicated it might withdraw its support to the Bill.

None of this is sufficient to decisively alter the numbers that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has marshalled in favour of the contentious Bill. Opposition strategists conceded they were at least 20 votes short of the government numbers. They said the battle was about constitutional morality and not majority.

 

As things stand, the BJP, its allies and regional parties, supporting the Bill have 128 votes in favour of the Bill in a House of 240. This figure, if the Sena also supports the Bill, would reach 131. The Opposition has 109, which could increase to 112 if the Sena votes with the opposition. An unlikely change of heart in the JD (U) could make the battle closer, but not by much. The JD (U) has six MPs in the Rajya Sabha. JD (U) leaders Prashant Kishor and Pavan Verma have spoken against their party for supporting the Bill.

 

The Opposition received a shot in the arm in the LS with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti opposing the Bill. The Opposition strategists also feared several MPs to remain absent from within their ranks.

 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who also heads the Shiv Sena, said in Mumbai, “We need to change this notion that one who supports the Bill and the BJP is a patriot and one who opposes it is anti-national. The government should answer all the issues raised on the Bill.”

The Sena has suggested changes it wants to be included in the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, he said. “Where will these refugees stay...in which state. All this should be clarified.” “We raised some questions but they were not answered. It is an illusion that only the BJP cares for the country,” Thackeray said. “We don't take a stand based on who likes it or not,” he said when asked about his party's stance on the Bill.

 

Anti-CAB protests rock Northeast

 

Large parts of the Northeast on Tuesday simmered with protests by students’ unions and Left-democratic organisations against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha.

 

Normal life was paralysed in Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley during the shutdown, led by the All Assam Students' Union and the North East Students' Organisation (NESO).

 


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel