Contentious citizenship bill set to be tabled in Lok Sabha today

Contentious citizenship bill set to be tabled in Lok Sabha today

Union home minister Amit Shah will on Monday introduce the contentious citizenship (amendment) bill in the Lok Sabha, a move that is likely to trigger parliamentary showdown over the draft legislation that proposes Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The bill proposes to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians if they entered India from the three nearby countries on or before December 31, 2014.

North-eastern student organisations, civil society groups and opposition parties have been protesting the government’s move, saying it will lead to an influx of religious minorities and hurt the interests of indigenous communities in the region.

The Union Cabinet cleared the bill last week, fulfilling a key election promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but several opposition parties said they continue to oppose the draft bill, which they said linked citizenship to religion and therefore violated the Constitution.

The Congress’s parliamentary strategy group held a meeting at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence and decided to strongly protest against the bill in Parliament. “The Congress will oppose the citizenship amendment bill tooth and nail in Parliament as it is against the country’s Constitution, secular ethos, tradition, culture and civilisation,” the Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said after the meeting concluded.