New Delhi: A six-and-a-half-hour-long rattling discussion in Rajya Sabha concluded on Wednesday evening as the Upper House of the Parliament cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 with 125 votes in favour, soon to turn into law with President Ram Nath Kovind’s approval.
The highly-debated bill was passed even as several parts of the Northeast ensued in violent protests. Streets have been boiling with protests that have battered normal life in many parts of Assam and Tripura, starting from burning public buses to clashes with security forces.
Tabled in both – Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the bill received immense slack for being non-inclusive of Muslim communities belonging to countries that are part of the legislation.
Here are the key highlights of the day:
- The bill that was passed in Lok Sabha at midnight on Monday after a 12-hour-long marathon debate, secured 125 votes in favour and 99 against it in the Upper House. The bill will now become a new law.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended the passage of the bill in a tweet and said, “A landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood! Glad that the #CAB2019 has been passed in the #RajyaSabha. Gratitude to all the MPs who voted in favour of the Bill. This Bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years.”
- On the other hand, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi released a statement saying the passage of the Bill marks the victory of narrow-minded and bigoted forces over India’s pluralism. “The Bill fundamentally challenges the idea of India that our forefathers fought for and, in its place, creates a disturbed, distorted and divided India where religion will become a determinant of nationhood,” she said.
- Home Minister Amit Shah, who assured that the bill will not hurt Muslim sentiments or upset people belonging to any community, said, “The people who are worried that minorities of this country will be subjected to injustice, it will not happen.”
- Shah, in his address to the House amid heated arguments, slammed the Congress’ repeated questions on Muslims being left out and said that Pakistan PM’s comment and Congress’s comment were alike. He also said that Muslims from other countries too have the right to apply for Indian citizenship as per the existing rules.
- Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena that separated from one of its oldest ally, the BJP, after last month’s high drama in Maharashtra, walked out of Rajya Sabha moments before the vote in a flipped decision to oppose the bill. The Sena had supported the legislation during its passage in Lok Sabha.
- Sena’s walkout was further driven by the Home Minister’s sharp retort at the regional party playing a flip-flop with its decision on supporting the bill. Reminding Sena of what happened in Maharashtra when they changed their stand overnight, Shah said, “Shiv Sena supported the bill yesterday. They should tell the people of Maharashtra as to what happened within the span of a night that they changed their stand today.”
- The Opposition in Parliament’s upper house tore into the government, terming the bill as “unconstitutional”, “divisive” as well as an assault on the democratic and secular fabric of the nation. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that the legislation gave a “legal colour to the two-nation theory of our country”.
- Congress senior leader P Chidambaram, who was recently released on bail in connection with the INX Media case, hit out at the Centre’s move and said that the ‘insidious’ bill will be challenged in Supreme Court if it passes in Parliament.
- Internet services have been suspended in 10 districts of Assam for the next 24 hours, till 7 PM on December 12. Moreover, an indefinite curfew has been imposed in Guwahati, the largest city of the state, in view of the unprecedented chaos. A shutdown of mobile services was also imposed in Tripura for 48 hours.