BJP confident of Citizenship Bill’s passage in Rajya Sabha

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NEW DELHI: Despite a boost in opposition numbers in Rajya Sabha against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the BJP is confident that the proposed legislation will be passed by the House with a majority on Wednesday when it is scheduled to be taken up for discussion and passage.
Sources in the the BJP-led NDA said they were sure of getting near 124-130 votes in the Upper House, and the opposition, they added, is unlikely to cross 90-93 votes in the 240-member House.
Opposition ranks have been boosted by the decision of the six-member Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which has often backed the Modi government on its key legislative agenda, to oppose the bill.
Longtime BJP ally Shiv Sena, now a partner in the Congress-NCP alliance, also indicated on Tuesday it may not support the bill now after backing it in Lok Sabha. The Maharashtra party with a history of pursuing strident Hindutva agenda has three members in Rajya Sabha.
BJP’s allies AIADMK, JD(U) and Akali Dal have 11, six and three members respectively in the Upper House, besides regional parties like the BJD with seven MPs, and YSR Congress and the TDP with 2 each are backing the bill. The BJP has 83 members in Rajya Sabha.
Seven independents and nominated members besides a number of regional parties with one member each will back the bill, BJP floor managers said.
The opposition camp includes Congress, TMC, BSP, Samajwadi Party, RJD, the Left and the TRS with 46, 13, four, nine, four, six and six members respectively, totalling 88. The support of Shiv Sena if it does come and a few smaller parties will take it over 90 but is unlikely to cause much discomfort to the government.
Some members, like the ailing Amar Singh, may not attend the House for health or other personal reasons.
Lok Sabha passed the bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they fled their native country due to religious persecution, on Monday.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014 after facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
Though the opposition has slammed the bill, alleging it is discriminatory against Muslims and violates the Constitution, Home Minister Amit Shah had asserted that people belonging to any religion should not have any fear under the Modi government.
The proposed law will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries, he said.

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