Citizenship bill (amendment): everything you need to know
- What is the citizenship bill (amendment)?
The citizenship bill (amendment) seeks to provide Indian nationality to six communities: Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, parsis, Jainists and Buddhists fleeing the persecution of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The bill modifies the Citizenship Act of 1955 to make illegal immigrants in the selected categories eligible for citizenship.
- What does the government say:
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh made it clear at the BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday that contentious legislation was the top priority of the government, equating its importance with the decision to convert article 370 into a dead letter. Minorities in neighboring theocratic countries have been subject to continuous persecution, forcing them to seek asylum in India. Giving citizenship to six minorities will be another push from the Modi government to the spirit of 'sarva dharma sambhav,' said Singh. .
- What does the opposition say:
The legislation has been attacked by opposition parties, minority groups and others for excluding Muslims and also because it disagrees with the Constitution, which does not differentiate between citizens based on their faith.
- Who are the parties that oppose/support the bill?
Congress, Trinamool, DMK, Samajwadi Party, RJD and Left, and even regional parties like BJD have expressed their reservations. BJP's Assam ally, AGP, seemed to have become accustomed to the idea of
CABafter the government secured changes to the bill. The government is likely to get support from regional allies: Akali Dal and JD (U). AIADMK, meanwhile, is likely to take a cautious approach before clarifying its position on the bill.
- Can the government approve the bill?
While BJP is unlikely to face opposition in Lok Sabha due to its overwhelming majority in the Lower House, in Rajya Sabha it has the support of allies such as JD (U) and Akali Dal. The opposition, however, hopes that BJP's allies are not as enthusiastic about the legislation and friendly parties such as AIADMK will also be forced to consider carefully whether to support the Citizenship Bill (Amendment).
- Why do some northeastern states oppose the bill?
The CAB has sparked resentment in the northeast as it is feared that granting citizenship to foreign refugees will undermine the ethnic communities living in these regions. There are indications that the government is working out a compromise. Formulations like provision of citizenship not leading to residency status in the smaller north-east states were discussed.
- Why has BJP's Assam-ally AGP taken a U-turn on CAB ?
In January of last year, BJP's ally, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), withdrew from NDA after Lok Sabha passed the previous version of the bill, which BJP had submitted to Parliament in 2016. When the draft law expired in the Lok Sabha, AGP returned to The alliance. Recently, AGP has indicated a change of direction in the proposed bill. “We have to move forward with reality: neither can we expel lakhs from illegal immigrants nor will Bangladesh ever recover them. We had our government twice in the past, but we couldn't even identify illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, the Assam Agreement has only accumulated dust for more than 34 years, said AGP member and Assam minister Atul Bora.