Bharatiya Janata Party ally Janata Dal (United) on Sunday said it would oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha, The Indian Express reported. The Lok Sabha had passed the controversial bill on January 8.
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents.
“We have decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, because it is against the spirit of Assamese ‘asmita’,” said JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi.
The party spokesperson also criticised the Congress for staging a walkout from the Lok Sabha when the bill was being put to vote, and said the action was equivalent to supporting the legislation, PTI reported.
“As far as the new Citizenship Bill concerning Assam is concerned, we condemn the attitude and behaviour of the Congress when the bill was put to vote in the Lok Sabha,” Tyagi said. “We are going to oppose it when it comes before the Rajya Sabha.”
The decision was taken at a meeting of the party’s national office bearers held at the residence of Bihar Chief Minister and party chief Nitish Kumar. JD(U) Vice-President Prashant Kishor, who joined the party in September last year, was among those who attended.
A party delegation comprising Tyagi, Kishor and other leaders will visit Assam on January 27 to take stock of the ground situation. The North East has been in a state of turmoil because of violence against the bill. In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition in protest against the legislation in the first week of January. Three Asom Gana Parishad state ministers later quit the Cabinet.
Responding to whether the JD(U) had decided to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill keeping the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in mind, Tyagi said, “Though we have not yet decided to field any candidate in Assam or any other part of the North East, we are an independent party and can take our stand.”
Pavan Varma, another JD(U) national general secretary, said his party’s differences with the BJP on controversial issues were based on principles and did not violate the laws of coalition. “We do not think it would lead to any misgivings as we have taken our stand on each of these issues after informing the BJP beforehand,” he said.
Tyagi said that the JD(U) will hold its national executive meeting in Patna in the last week of February. The party will contest 17 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, according to the arrangement with alliance partners BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party.