Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha as a “landmark day for India and its ethos of compassion and brotherhood”.
In the Rajya Sabha, 125 MPs voted for the citizenship bill, while 105 voted against it. Besides BJP, its allies such as JD-U and SAD, the legislation was supported by AIADMK, BJD, TDP and YSR-Congress.
The bill seeks to fast-track citizenship to persecuted minorities coming to India from three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The BJP-led central government pushed for the bill arguing that it is India’s duty to give these minorities a dignified life.
“A landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood! Glad that the #CAB2019 has been passed in the #RajyaSabha. Gratitude to all the MPs who voted in favour of the Bill. This Bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years,” PM Modi said in a tweet shortly after it was passed in the Upper House.
Replying to a six-and-a-half-hour debate on the bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said the legislation seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities in the three countries and not take away citizenship of anyone. He rejected the Opposition charge that the bill was against Muslims and said they have nothing to fear.
“Citizenship of Indian Muslims is not being taken away.” “Citizenship bill is not to snatch anyone’s Indian citizenship. Muslims have no need to fear or worry,” he said.
Shah said the bill seeks to correct the wrong done by the partition of the country on religious lines. He went on to attack the Congress for alleged double speak on the issue, saying the party had during its rule given Indian citizenship to 13,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan without raising a word about the same for other communities. He also said the bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution as it does not prohibit laws based on reasonable classification. Muslims have not been included for giving citizenship because the proposed law is for persecuted minorities in the three countries, he said.
Earlier the House rejected motions to send the bill to a select committee of the House with 124 members voting against it as compared to 99 in its favour.
The House also rejected several amendments moved by opposition members to the bill, most by voice vote.
The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday. It will now go to the President for his assent.
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