As the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, completing the legislative process for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the opposition's score fell below expectations.
As many as 125 MPs voted in favour of the bill in the upper house and 99 against it, according to Rajya Sabha officials. While the tally followed the government's expectation of securing between 124-130 votes, the opposition's count was far below its expectation of around 110. In a house with 223 members present, the majority mark was 112.
Three members of the BJP's former ally Shiv Sena, which has now teamed up with two parties from the opposition bloc to form the government in Maharashtra, staged a walkout just before voting after accusing the government of ignoring concerns about the bill.
Besides the constituents of the BJP-led national Democratic Alliance or NDA such as the Janata Dal United (JD-U), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and AIADMK, the legislation was supported by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), YSR-Congress and independents.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), meanwhile, had 64 members and expected 46 others, like the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Communist Party of India (Marxist), to oppose the bill, taking its total to 110. However, its final score came to 98.
Two members of the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) as well as one of each Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress (TMC) were absent.
Earlier, the Rajya Sabha rejected a motion to send the bill to a select committee of the House with 125 members voting against it as compared to 99 in its favour after a six-and-a-half-hour debate.
The house also rejected several amendments moved by opposition members to the bill, most by voice vote. The bill will now go to the President for his assent.
This was the second attempt by the Modi government to amend the citizenship law. In January, the legislation was passed in the lower house but lapsed with the 15th Lok Sabha as it was not brought in Rajya Sabha where the Modi government lacked the numbers.