"Disappointed": Prashant Kishor On JDU Backing Citizenship Bill

The Citizenship Amendment Bill provides that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing persecution in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan can be granted citizenship.

Prashant Kishor had also spoken up against the National Register of Citizens in Assam. (File)

Highlights

  • Prashant Kishor spoke out against own party JDU
  • Disappointed to see JDU supporting Citizenship Bill, he said
  • "Incongruous with the party's constitution," he said
New Delhi:

Election strategist turned Janata Dal United (JDU) leader Prashant Kishor on Monday spoke out against his own party on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha with 311 votes. "Disappointed to see JDU supporting #CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals," he wrote on Twitter.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JDU was among the parties that supported the bill on Monday. JDU MP Rajeev Ranjan Singh said in the Lok Sabha that his party will support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill because it promises Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities of Pakistan.

Sources say a section of the party is stumped by the JDU's support to the bill, given that the party had opposed it in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha last year. Nitish Kumar, say sources, had spoken for almost an hour on what he believed was wrong with the Citizenship Amendment Bill at a meeting of party leaders in December last year. Many top JDU leaders are wondering when the party's stand changed.

The bill was cleared by the previous Lok Sabha but lapsed before it could clear the Rajya Sabha. It was tabled again yesterday by Home Minister Amit Shah.

Mr Kishor had also spoken up against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, calling it a botched up exercise. The poll strategist-turned-politician who has been professionally linked to parties like YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, had then been criticised by those within his party.

Prashant Kishor, who joined the JDU as Vice President, has been hardly active in Bihar as a party boss. Sensing the BJP's discomfiture with his presence, the party has even kept him out of the parliamentary elections earlier this year.

On Monday, parliament saw raucous during a 12-hour debate and protests raged in the north-east of the country as MPs debated the legislation that stands to give citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries, but not Muslims.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill provides that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing persecution in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan can be granted citizenship.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 which prohibits illegal migrants from applying for Indian citizenship.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor told parliament amid angry exchanges that the bill "infringes upon the principle of equality before law" guaranteed to all persons, including non-citizens.

The government has defended the bill, saying it was only aimed at flushing out infiltrators, and that Muslims did not face persecution in the three neighbouring countries.

"This bill is not even 0.001 per cent against minorities. It is against infiltrators," Home Minister Amit Shah said.

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