- Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing BJP MPs at parliament
- Citizenship Bill will be written in golden letters: PM Modi
- Opposition calls bill discriminatory, violation of principles of equality
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing BJP MPs at parliament today, said "some parties" were speaking the same language as Pakistan on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB). "Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be written in golden letters, it will give permanent relief to people who fled religious persecution," PM Modi said at the BJP parliamentary party meeting held hours before the controversial bill was to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha.
"The very same language used by Pakistan on the citizenship bill is being used by some parties," the Prime Minister said, urging party MPs to take this message to the people. "The relief and joy that CAB has brought is immeasurable. Listen to their pain," he added.
Opposition parties, especially the Congress, have denounced the bill, which seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered the country before 2015 to become Indian citizens. They call the bill discriminatory and in violation of the principles of equality and secularism in the constitution.
Violent protests have also erupted in northeastern states against the bill, with protesters fearing the proposed law will change the demographics of the states and encourage a deluge from neighbouring Bangladesh.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday around midnight after a fiery seven-hour debate. There were 334 votes for the bill and 106 against.
The government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha but the BJP is confident of the support of more than 120 - the half-way mark in the 245-member Rajya Sabha.
This morning, PM Modi tweeted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill "continues India's long tradition of giving refuge to persecuted minorities". The Prime Minister also shared hashtag #IndiaSupportsCAB and urged users of his NaMo App to spread and share content, graphics and videos explaining the bill.
The ruling BJP says the bill is in line with India's centuries-old tradition of assimilation and makes persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan eligible for Indian citizenship.