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CAB in Rajya Sabha: With BJP’s floor management, here is how it might just clear the halfway mark

The Union Cabinet cleared the Bill for Parliament on December 4, 2019, and was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 10. The Bill is to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, Wednesday.

The Lok Sabha had passed the historic Citizenship Amendment Bill on the night of 9 December.

The bill, which was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha in January 2019, had lapsed as it could not be passed in Rajya Sabha before the 2019 general elections. Now, it was re-tabled at the lower house of the parliament on December 9 and was passed with 311 MPs of Lok Sabha voting in favour of it, while 80, voting against it in the division of votes that took place just after midnight. Now the bill is scheduled to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on December 11.

The Congress party, which has been opposing the bill, has issued three-line whip to its Rajya Sabha MPs to be present in the House tomorrow. Likewise, issuing a whip, the Bharatiya Janata Party has asked all MPs of the Rajya Sabha to remain present in the House on December 10 and December 11.

However, after getting the numbers in the lower house, the government is all geared up to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha also. Due to the Amit Shah’s detailed groundwork and floor management, it is expected that the bill will get the consent of the Upper house as the arithmetic seems to be in favour of the same.

To understand the possibility let us analyse the permutation and combination of numbers in the Upper house:

The UPA-led opposition, supported by the Congress and Trinamool Congress, has a combined strength of less than 100 out of 245. Congress has 46 MPs, but Motilal Vohra is absent due to health issues.

The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 238. So the halfway mark is set at 120.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has 13 members in the Upper House. Likewise, the Samajwadi Party has 9, DMK has 5, both the RJD and the BSP have 4 MPs each. With this, the number rises to 100 provided other smaller parties are also included along with these numbers.

Now, if we look at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA’s numbers in the Upper house, it has 83 MPs of its own, including newly elected MPs Arun Singh and KC Ramamurthy. The Shiromani Akali Dal has 3 MPs while AIADMK has 11 members, both of whom are in favour of the bill. Moreover, JDU’s Nitish Kumar has also decided to support the bill.

Apart from these, 12 other members, which include a few independent MPs and the allies of the North East and other smaller parties, are to be considered on BJP’s side.

Despite the political difference between BJP and Shiv Sena, due to which their alliance fell apart, Uddhav Thackeray’s party has extended their support to the bill. Moreover, few neutral parties have also extended support to the central government. Sena has 3 MPs in Rajya Sabha.

Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has declared support for the bill. So have YSRCP, TDP and BJP’s Bihar ally JDU. BJD has 7 MPs in the Rajya Sabha. YSRCP and TDP have 2 each and JDU has 6. NDA member SAD has 3 MPs too. The 4 nominated MPs are also expected to vote in favour of the bill.

Considering that at least 2 BJP MPs including Anil Baluni are on medical leave and the support of two independent contenders is also missing, still, with the help of regional parties, the BJP may just manage to clear the halfway mark.

The present regime, under the supervision of Home Minister Amit Shah, has been silently laying down the groundwork for the Citizenship Amendment Bill since the beginning of Parliament’s winter session. BJP had edged forward with a similar exercise on the proposal to repeal Article 370 also, which they were successful in.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and his cabinet colleague Dharmendra Pradhan were working to bring AIADMK to their side, they also kept BJD in the loop. Likewise, the party’s general secretary, Bhupendra Yadav was in talks with JDU. Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi has been talking to smaller parties including YSR and TDP.

The Bill is likely to be moved in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, to cross its final hurdle. If CAB is passed in both houses of Parliament and notified in the Gazette of India, the Citizenship Act, 1955 will stand amended.

This will mean that all Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December 2014 without any valid travel documents such as passport, will not be considered an illegal migrant at all. In fact, such persons will be granted Indian citizenship by proving that they have resided in India for 5 years and additionally for a period of 12 months, right before applying for citizenship by naturalization.

Importantly, it is only applicable to the people from these communities. The move will protect minority refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The Union Cabinet cleared the Bill for Parliament on December 4, 2019, and was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 10. The Bill is to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, Wednesday.

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