New Delhi: The Shiv Sena on Wednesday boycotted the vote on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha two days after it had voted in favour of it in the Lok Sabha.
The three Rajya Sabha members of the party, which is in a coalition government in Maharashtra with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, walked out before the bill was put to vote, though party MP Sanjay Raut participated in the discussions in the House during the day.
Earlier in the day, Raut had told reporters that the party will support the bill in the Rajya Sabha only if the Centre answered all questions raised by party chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday. “We have to clear our doubts on this Bill. If we do not get satisfactory answers, then our stand could be different from what we took in the Lok Sabha,” he said.
“We should discuss this Bill under the prism of humanity, and not religion. There is a difference between intruders and refugees,” Raut said in the Upper House.
The Sena which voted in favour of the bill on Monday came under strong criticism of its ally, the Congress party, which said that the saffron party should have adhered to the common minimum programme of their alliance in Maharashtra, which lists secularism as significant tenet.
A day after the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that his party will not support the proposed legislation unless its queries in the Rajya Sabha were addressed.
“We will not give support to the Bill unless things are clear. If any citizen is afraid of this Bill than one must clear their doubts. They are our citizens so one must answer their questions too,” Thackeray had said.
The bill, which aims to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there, was cleared in the Rajya Sabha with 125 members voting for it and 99 voting against it.
In his brief speech, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “Since yesterday I am hearing that those not supporting the Bill are traitors and are speaking the language of Pakistan.” “We don’t need any certificate to prove how patriotic we are and how staunch Hindu we are. We are headmaster in a school (Hindutva) that you study. Our school headmaster was Bal Thackeray and Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We believe in them,” he added.
He was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported comment that some parties were speaking in the same language as Pakistan on the Bill.
Rebutting the prime minister’s remarks, Raut said, “This is not the Pakistan assembly. People in India have voted for members sitting in the treasury as well as opposition benches. If you don’t like Pakistan’s language, there is a majority government which can eliminate Pakistan. We are with you.” Addressing the BJP parliamentary meeting Wednesday morning, Modi said some political parties were speaking the same language as Pakistan, “including the full stop and comma”.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that Shiv Sena, which supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha, should tell the people of Maharashtra what changed their stand on the matter.
“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,” Shah said while replying to the debate on the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.