Bhubaneswar: The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Parliament on Wednesday, clearing the Rajya Sabha hurdle with 125 voting in favour and 105 against it.
The passage of the legislation came even as the vast swath of the North-Eastern region saw large scale violence, with Assam and Guwahati remaining the epicentre of the violent protests.
The passage of the legislation paves the way for grant of citizenship of hundreds and thousands of persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who have been residing in India for the past many years.
Shiv Sena MPs walked out of the House ahead of the votes on the amendments moved by opposition members. The BJD, AIADMK, TDP, YSR-Congress supported the legislation, bailing out the NDA government on this crucial legislation.
Several amendments moved by Opposition MPs from the TMC, Congress, CPM, among other parties were rejected.
The House witnessed an eight-hour-long marathon debate on the Bill, with Home Minister Amit Shah asserting that it is not anti-Muslim. The debates were interspersed with heated arguments and strong rhetorics from either side. The Opposition kept on attacking the government, accusing it of undermining the secular fabric of the nation and adopting an anti-Muslim stand.
“No minority in this country, including Muslims, are going to be affected by this. This is not about their citizenship. This is for migrants. Please don’t do politics over this bill,” Shah said as his speech was repeatedly disrupted by opposition benches.
“This is not a violation of Article 14. This comes under ‘reasonable classification’ as there are 6 religious groups that are listed,” he said.
He strongly dismissed opposition claims, saying “do not scare the minorities of this country. This bill is to give citizenship, not to take away citizenship. Nobody’s citizenship is being taken away”.
Leader of Opposition in the House Gulam Nabi Azad wondered what was the hurry in passing the legislation when only a few thousands in the country are going to benefit from it. Trinamool Congress MP Derek O Brien described the Centre’s move as a “dictatorial” approach.
A senior TMC MP told Odisha Bytes the party will stage a massive demonstration in Kolkata soon. He further said they would support and join parties challenging the Bill in Supreme Court.
Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on Monday.