This Article is From Oct 23, 2019

Bengal BJP Wants 6 Years Residence Clause Scrapped From Citizenship Bill

In Bengal, BJP had said if voted to power, refugees will be be accorded citizenship through Citizenship Bill and infiltrators will be weeded out with the NRC.

Bengal BJP Wants 6 Years Residence Clause Scrapped From Citizenship Bill

BJP's Rahul Sinha said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be placed before the parliament "very soon"


Facing strong criticism over updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the BJP leadership in West Bengal is pitching for the removal of the "six years residence" clause from the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and has urged Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah to look into it.

According to the state BJP sources, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) is likely to be re-introduced in the winter session of the parliament.

The CAB provides Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after they have stayed in India for six years, instead of the prsent provision of 12 years, even if they do not possess any document. 

"Instead of the six years residence clause, there should be a provision to ensure that if someone is coming to the country to save his religion and honour, he or she should just submit an affidavit.

"There can be procedural verification to find out the real reason and then the person can be accorded citizenship," state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu told news agency PTI. 

Amit Shah has already been briefed about the viewpoint of the state unit on the matter, Mr Basu said. "He is positive about it. Let us see what happens," he said.

Bengal BJP's viewpoint is that it wants the clause to be removed. It is important at least from the prespective of the state as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has gone all out against the NRC and the CAB. 

"The TMC's campaign, that a person has to wait for six years to get citizenship, is not going down well with the people," another senior state BJP leader privy to the developments, told news agency PTI.

The publication of the final NRC list in Assam, which left out over 19.6 lakh people - of whom around 12 lakh are Hindus and Bengali Hindus - has changed the political narrative in the state to a great extent, with the TMC appearing to have an advantage over the BJP.

The Bengal BJP had said if it comes to power, it will first implement the CAB to give citizenship to refugees and then bring in the NRC to weed out infiltrators. 

According to state BJP sources, Mr Shah during his October 1 visit, had asked the Bengal party leadership to start making people aware of the CAB to dampen the TMC campaign that the saffron party's stand on the NRC is creating panic in the state.

"So whenever we are trying to create an awareness on CAB, we are facing this question on the 'six years residence' clause. People are asking us what will happen after six years, will they be sent to detention camps? There is a lot of confusion. This is the feedback from the ground," another state BJP leader said.

According to BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be placed before the parliament "very soon".

BJP's refugee cell chief Mohit Roy had earlier conceded that the final NRC list in Assam had been a setback for the party. However, he had assuaged the concerns of the people by mentioning that Hindus, who have been left out of the list, will be secured through the implementation of the CAB.

The TMC leadership refused to attach much importance to this and said both the NRC and CAB are attempts to divide people on religious lines.

"Both the NRC and CAB should be scrapped. Why does a person need to prove his identity after 70 years of Independence?" TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said. 

Congress and CPI(M) are of the opinion that both the BJP and the TMC are using the matter to serve their own political interests with absolute disregard for the suffering of the people.