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BJP firm on citizenship Bill 

New Delhi, February 3

Despite the rising resistance against it, including from the JD(U) and allies from the North-East, the BJP says it remains “firm” on its stance on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and that a “lot of thought” has gone into it.

Responding to queries at the “Bharat ke mann ki baat, Modi ke saath” — an exercise to seek suggestions from 10 crore people across India to help the BJP prepare its manifesto — party chief Amit Shah said every issue has two sides. “Home Minister Rajnath Singh is talking to parties (to build consensus). The Bill has been brought after a lot of thinking, (and) we are firm on it,” Shah said.

It remains to be seen whether or not the contentious Bill can even be taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha although leaders say it is a promise the BJP made to the people in 2014 like a grand Ram Temple at Ayodhya to which it remains “committed”. 

This, despite the fact that BJP’s Bihar ally JD(U) wants the Bill to be scrapped and even claims it has been slowed down following its protests. While the Asom Gana Parishad has already walked out, smaller allies like the National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front (NPF), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Mizo National Front are also opposed to the idea of religion-based citizenship.

The Congress is expected to stick to its earlier stance, which is to send the contentious legislation to a select committee. The Bill is unlikely to make it through Parliament given the numbers in the Rajya Sabha and the time factor. And given the way numbers are stacked up in the Rajya Sabha against the ruling NDA, for the proposed legislation to fail, the grand old party will have to stay put in the House and participate in voting, unlike the Lok Sabha where it walked out at the time of the process.

For the saffron party, the build-up on the Bill is important to make inroads into West Bengal and firm up Assam. For it, the issue is as important as the Ram Mandir.

Organisations in the North-East, they say, may oppose what is being seen as a “polarising” law, but several parts of Assam and West Bengal have supported it. They claim Bengali Hindus also constitute a large section of the North-East that contributes around 25 seats to the Lok Sabha, of which BJP is aiming for at least 21 along with 23 from West Bengal.

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