New Delhi: Given the ruling BJP's brute majority in the Lok Sabha, the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was a foregone conclusion in the lower house, but it is struggling to muster support of other parties to cover up its deficit of 15 votes in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill is to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and it is to be put to vote either the same day or on Thursday, the penultimate day of the current winter session that ends on Friday.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday exuded confidence that the Bill will cruise through in the Rajya Sabha as well, but the BJP floor members said the government is still short of 15 votes in a House with effective strength of 238.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has a tally of 105 in the Rajya Sabha, including its own 83 MPs, Janata Dal-U's six, Akali Dal's three, one each of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the RPI (A) and the 11 nominated MPs.
The BJP is in talks with the AIADMK which has 11 members and the BJD which has seven; together, they can help in getting the Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. Party leaders are also trying to garner support of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the
YSR Congress, both of which have two members each.
Also being pursued is the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which can further tip the scales with its six members in the Rajya Sabha, though it had opposed the Bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress-led Opposition has 84 Rajya Sabha MPs and is hoping that their strength will go up to 93, if the six members of the TRS and three of the Shiv Sena also oppose the Bill. The Sena, incidentally, had backed the Bill in the Lok Sabha.
Those openly opposing the Bill among the opposition parties are the Congress 46, the Trinamul Congress 13, the Samjwadi Party 9, the CPI-M 5, the NCP and the BSP 4 each and the AAP 3.
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has announced that his party would oppose the Bill in the Rajya Sabha since the government did not answer questions raised by his party MP in the Lok Sabha, despite it having voted for the Bill.
As the numbers stand, the government is hoping to scrape through in the Rajya Sabha with the support of the smaller parties.