Citizenship (Amendment) Bill To Be Introduced In Lok Sabha On Monday

With the BJP enjoying majority in Lok Sabha, the bill will easily clear the lower house of parliament, but it can face trouble in the Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have the numbers.

Many opposition parties have called the proposed law a violation of secular principles

New Delhi:

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced "religious persecution" there, is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday and will be taken up for passage the next day.

With the BJP enjoying majority in Lok Sabha, the bill will easily clear the lower house of parliament, but it can face trouble in the Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have the numbers. Reports suggest that the BJP is in talks with NDA allies and other parties to secure the required numbers in Rajya Sabha.

The previous BJP government had introduced the bill in parliament but could not push through amid massive protests by a united opposition. The bill had later lapsed.

The draft bill was cleared by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet on Wednesday, hours after Home Minister Amit Shah concluded a series of consultative meetings with political leaders and civil society members from the Northeast, to address their concerns.

The Northeast had last year witnessed widespread protests against the bill and many BJP allies had voiced their reservations as well. Keeping their objections in view, Mr Shah spoke to political leaders, student bodies and civil society groups in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

The tabling of the bill had triggered massive protests in the northeast states earlier this year. The AGP had severed ties with the government over the issue. However, a month before the national election in May, the two parties had come together again.

Many opposition parties have called the proposed law a violation of secular principles and the right to equality enshrined in the constitution, since it leaves out Muslims.

Opposition MPs from Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland last week wrote to the PM saying that if the bill is implemented across the region, it will leave the indigenous and tribal population vulnerable to displacement.

The bill seeks to amend a 1955 law that labels as "illegal immigrants" those who have entered India without travel documents or have overstayed beyond documents, and grant exemptions to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.

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