JDU to vote against citizen bill
The Janata Dal United on Sunday decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and vote against it in the Rajya Sabha in solidarity with the Asom Gana Parishad.
The JDU will also send a high-level delegation to Assam to meet the people and leaders opposed to the bill.
The JDU, which is led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
The decision, which comes on the heels of the JDU’s opposition to triple talaq in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP is on a weak footing, was taken at a meeting chaired by Nitish. The meeting was attended among others by party vice-president Prashant Kishor, secretary general K.C. Tyagi and general secretary Pawan K. Varma.
“We have decided to oppose the citizenship bill. We will oppose it in the Rajya Sabha and support the AGP on it. The bill is against the interests of the people of Assam.
The AGP had pulled out of the BJP ministry in Assam in protest against the bill.
“A high-level team consisting of our Nagaland president NSN Lotha, party vice-president Prashant Kishor, leader Afaque Alam and I will go to Assam and express solidarity with the people opposed to the bill,” Tyagi said.
Although Tyagi did not reveal the date on which the JDU delegation would visit Guwahati, sources in the JDU said the trip was expected between January 22 and 24.
The delegation could also take part in the AGP’s hunger strike against the bill on January 24 and protest rallies being organised in Assam.
Tyagi downplayed the notion that the JDU was going against its ally, the BJP. He said despite being a trusted NDA partner, the JDU had maintained a different stand on Article 370, uniform civil code, Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute and the triple talaq issue.
Attacking the Congress on the citizenship bill, Tyagi said: “We condemn the Congress stand on the bill. It walked out of the Lok Sabha when it came up for voting, which was akin to virtually supporting it. We fear that it might repeat the same thing in the Rajya Sabha. However, our party will vote against the bill there.”
The government plans to change the definition of illegal migrants through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, to provide citizenship to people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian origin.
It does not include Muslims and also proposes to scale down the criteria for citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years of continuous stay to six years. The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill and it hangs fire in the Rajya Sabha now.
The AGP and other parties in Assam are opposing the bill as they fear it will give legitimacy to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and change the linguistic and cultural identity of the state.