Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Photo by PTI

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 is being debated in Rajya Sabha. The Bill which was cleared in Lok Sabha seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugees from Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

During the debate, Union Home Minister Amit Shah dug into the old records and used past instances to counter the opposition, especially Congress and Mamata Banerjee.

Shah cited the Congress Working Committee resolution from November 25, 1947, urging citizenship for “non-Muslim” refugees coming from Pakistan to save their lives and honour.

He also quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which he claimed minorities in Bangladesh had faced persecution and hence it was the moral duty of the government to provide refuge to these people.

The Home Minister turned up the heat on West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, giving a 2005 example. In a session in Lok Sabha Banerjee had fumed over ‘illegal immigrants in Bengal’.

She had hurled a sheaf of papers at the Speaker’s chair and ranted about not being allowed to raise the issue of ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’. She had hit out at the ruling Left in West Bengal saying, “Illegal migrants from Bangladesh are also part of the voters’ list in West Bengal. The state government has done nothing about it. Therefore, the issue must be discussed.”

Shah's statement created a commotion in the House as Derek O’Brien claimed Amit Shah is misleading the House by quoting Mamata Banerjee from August 2005, about “infiltrators” in West Bengal.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Centre requires the support of at least 123 MPs in the 245-member Upper House. Opposition parties including Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, DMK are protesting against the bill, which was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday with a majority of 311 votes against 80 in the Lower House where 391 members were present and voted.

(With Inputs from Agencies)

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