The government on Tuesday passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, seeking to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangaldesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Lok Sabha without much hindrance inside the House. However, hours before it was passed, several of Trinamool Congress MPs demonstrated onto the parliament lawns in a unique way to lodge their protest against the Citizenship Bill brought by the Narendra Modi government. In a video shared by news agency ANI showed an MP wearing a mask of PM Modi and wielding a stick and threatening and hitting repeatedly others other MPs. The MPs also raised slogans against the Modi government and demanded that the government recall the bill.
The passing of the controversial bill in the Lok Sabha was marked by a "bandh", which brought life to a standstill in Assam and had its spillover effect in the other north-eastern states. The day saw a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson quitting the party, moments after the bill was passed in the Lower House of Parliament, a former chief minister demanding the resignation of the BJP-led Assam government and a state minister describing the Asom Gana Parishad's (AGP) withdrawal from the government as a "historic blunder".
All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 in the Parliament premises. pic.twitter.com/jlww8BjFfO— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2019
Immediately after Home Minister Rajnath Singh introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said there are "flaws" in the bill that does not address the Assam Accord and requested the Speaker to send it to a select committee. His party walked out after the Speaker refused to accept the demand.
Other opposition party leaders, including TMC's Saugata Roy dubbed the bill as "divisive" and "insidious" that goes against the basic tenets of the Constitution. "This is the worst form of vote-bank politics", Roy added.
TMC MPs protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 in the Parliament premises. (News agency ANI)January 8, 2019
Defending the bill, which he said was not "Assam-centric", the Home Minister asserted that the bill was not against the provisions of the Constitution and would give succour to persecuted minorities in three neighbouring countries as they "have no place to go to, except India."
Rejecting the contention that the bill sought to discriminate people on the basis of religion, Singh said, "Anyone eligible under the provisions under the law will be accorded citizenship".
(With PTI inputs)