The fight against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill may soon receive support from unusual quarters, with the Janata Dal-United - a key constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - planning to send a delegation to meet civil society bodies in the Northeast later this month.
They are expected to cover several parts of the region through January 28 and 29, speaking to the public as well as different stakeholders at a time when many political allies of the BJP have already conveyed their displeasure over the bill. The Asom Gana Parishad went as far as to quit the NDA in protest against the controversial legislation.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act-1955 for granting expedited Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from three neighbouring countries. While people hit the streets to protest against facilitating the entry of outsiders, social groups alleged discrimination against immigrants on religious grounds.
The Janata Dal-United delegation will comprise party vice-president Prashant Kishor, secretary general KC Tyagi, general secretary (northeast in-charge) Afaque Ahmad Khan and Nagaland unit president NSN Lotha. A senior leader said on the condition of anonymity that the party has already decided to vote against the bill in the Rajya Sabha, and it will try and convince other NDA partners to do so too.
At least four chief ministers from the Northeast have raised their concerns on the bill until now. Recently, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga visited the national capital in a combined effort to make the centre scrap the controversial legislation in the face of raging protests across the region. Mr Sangma's National People's Party and Mr Zoramthanga's Mizo People's Front are both part of the NDA.