Members of the Congress, TMC, CPI(M) and the Samajwadi Party have moved dissent notes to the JPC report on the bill.
The final report of the joint parliamentary committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which will be submitted in Lok Sabha on Monday, does not have the approval of at least four opposition parties whose members on the panel have moved dissent notes, sources said Sunday. Members of the Congress, TMC, CPI(M) and the Samajwadi Party have moved dissent notes to the JPC report on the bill, sources across these parties said.
“As members of the joint committee on Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, we can state that there was no consensus in the committee on the final report. We had been opposed to the bill as it brings out the ethnic divisions in the state of Assam,” one of the notes said. Members of the committee from the Left and TMC said that the committee had visited Gujarat, Rajasthan and Assam where they faced major opposition to the bill.
“In Assam it is more critical issue. During the Assam visit, the committee even faced demonstration. On behalf of the committee, we promised to visit the state again, to talk to more stakeholders about the issue and also assured them that unless we meet again we won’t submit the report. Now, it’s embarrassing,” said a member from the Left.
The opposition parties said that they had objection to the bill which they alleged links religion to citizenship. “This is the basic objection. So, delink religion from citizenship issue. This is against the spirit of our civilisation, culture and of our Constitution. Citizenship can’t be linked with state, religion, caste, creed and be country specific. It should be universal,” said another dissenting member.
The members have also raised objections over the way the committee has functioned. They said that they had given amendments to Clause 2 of the bill seeking to eliminate the specific mention of six minority communities and also the names of neighbouring countries. This was to secularise the bill, the dissent note from the TMC said.
The amendments were defeated in the committee in a vote by the show of hands. The ruling party mobilised all their members to defeat the amendments.
“We are not happy about functioning of the commission. Since three years of its formation, the sitting was occasion. During the session, the committee sits for three times in a week. Sometimes no meeting for six months. So the chairman used to put the committee either in top gear or in neutral gear. It was not normal,” a Left leader said.
The opposition leaders have also alleged the bill which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 with the aim of granting citizenship to minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians – after six years of residence in India, instead of 11, could end up exposing the ethnic divisions in the state of Assam.
“The opposition is united in opposing the bill. The report will be submitted tomorrow and then everyone will come to know,” said a source in the Congress.
While speaking in Silchar, Assam on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the Centre’s commitment to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
“The Citizenship Bill is an atonement of the wrong that was done during India’s partition. I hope this bill is passed soon in Parliament. India will safeguard all who had been victims of partition,” he said.
“We feel that no names of genuine Indian citizens should have been deleted. We also strongly feel that the bill should not be passed by sheer majority since this is a political effort not necessitated by political realities in Assam and West Bengal,” the TMC said in its note.