New Delhi: Ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha test for the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, (CAB), cracks have developed in Janata Dal (United) or JDU, after the Nitish Kumar-led party changed its stand on the Bill and decided to support it in Lok Sabha on Monday.
The first to raise the voice of dissent within the party was political strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor, now the vice president of JDU. In a tweet on late on Monday, Kishor said, “Disappointed to see JDU supporting CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals."
The crucial Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, (CAB), is expected to be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday when the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will need support of all its alliance partners and like-minded regional parties to get the Bill passed in the Upper House. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- led NDA is in minority in Rajya Sabha and requires support of at least 123 Members of Parliament (MPs) to get the Bill passed.
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“We have changed our stand on the Bill because of the growing public pressure. There is a public perception that the Bill is in the larger interest of the people and country, so the JDU leadership decided to go along the growing support of people on CAB," said a senior JDU leader based in Patna.
The Bill proposes according Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities--Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Christians, and Sikhs--who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Members of the JDU said after the party opposed the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A in Parliament, there was feedback that it should have supported the Bill.
“JDU has stopped opposing the abrogation of Article 370 and now it has changed its stand on Citizenship Amendment Bill because of the growing perception that both the actions of the union government were in the larger interest of people," said the JDU leader.
However, the rebellion within JDU seems to be growing as senior leader and former parliamentarian, Pavan K. Varma, who is also the party’s national general secretary, has spoken against JDU’s decision to support the contentious Bill.
“I urge Shri Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the CAB in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the unity and harmony of the country, apart from being against the secular principles of the JDU. Gandhiji would have strongly disapproved it," tweeted Varma on Tuesday.
JDU leaders believe that Bihar chief minister and party president Nitish Kuamr does not want to take action against Kishor or Varma because of the upcoming assembly election in Bihar when JDU will need both its political strategists. Varma was instrumental in bringing Kishor to JDU.