New Delhi: The Shiv Sena’s indication that it would back the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill has raised eyebrows in the Congress party, which is a coalition partner in the Maharashtra government. The other coalition member, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), like the Congress, opposes the Bill.
Sources in the top Congress leadership told this newspaper that they are mulling calling Maharashtra Chief Minster and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to clarify the party’s stand.
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said on Wednes-day: “We will support the bill as it is against infiltrators and will also help give citizenship rights to persecuted Hindus, Jains and Buddhists living in Pakistan and Bangla-desh. The bill should just not be misused.”
The formation of the Maharashtra government was stalled over a guarantee of ‘secularism’ in the coalition’s common minimum programme. The Shiv Sena (an early BJP ally) subseque-ntly agreed to the mention of ‘secular’ in the CMP’s first paragraph.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of Opposition parties on Thursday afternoon in which many opined that while the Shiv Sena may vote however it wanted, the Opposition focus should be on building the correct narrative for the Bill. The meeting was held at Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s office in Parliament, and was attended by almost all Opposition parties: TMC, DMK, SP, NCP and the Left. Assam Congress leader Ripun Bora was asked to brief the leaders on the Bill to give a correct perspective. A senior leader said it was understood that the Shiv Sena would later take a decision. Rather than decide which way a party should vote, a strong narrative needed to be built on problems with the Bill and how it was against the Constitution.
“BJP is trying to cloud the whole conversation,” Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress said.
“We must have a clear communication strategy till Sunday to get across to the people of the country.” He added that the Opposition will appoint a leader each to set the right narrative.
According to O’Brien, his party’s opposition to the Bill was that it was anti-tribal. “It is a cheap political stunt,” he said.
“How can you have multiple standards of citizenship for the same country?” For us, NRC and CAB are not separate issues,” he added....