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'As an Independent Party, We've Our Own Role': After U-Turn on Citizenship Bill, Shiv Sena 'Boycotts' Voting in RS

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut speaks during the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill. (Image : ANI)

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut speaks during the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill. (Image : ANI)

Justifying the move after the party voted in favour of the bill in Lok Sabha on Monday, MP Sanjay Raut said the government did not give satisfactory answers to the concerns raised by the Shiv Sena.

New Delhi: The Shiv Sena on Wednesday staged a walkout ahead of voting on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, citing unsatisfactory response to the queries raised by it.

The Bill was later cleared by the Rajya Sabha.

After questions were raised over the absence of three of the party's lawmakers in the Upper House, MP Sanjay Raut said, "Yes, Shiv Sena has boycotted the voting."

Justifying the move, seen as a U-turn after the party voted in favour of the bill in Lok Sabha on Monday, Raut said the government did not give satisfactory answers to the concerns raised by the party.

The change in the stance comes a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed displeasure over the Sena backing the bill in Lok Sabha.

"The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation," Gandhi had tweeted.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had then said the Sena won't back the bill in Rajya Sabha till there is clarity on the party's queries posed in Lok Sabha. The Shiv Sena is in alliance with the ideologically opposite Congress and NCP, both of whom voted against the bill.

When asked if the party's boycotting will have any effect on their alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, Raut remained dismissive. "What effect will it have? We have kept forth our view. We are an independent political party. We have our own role," he said.

The Sena had voted in favour of the Bill in the Lok Sabha two days ago and the U-turn signals that it has caved under pressure from its new Maharashtra ally, the Congress, which has made clear its displeasure over Sena's support to the bill.

Sena's absence from the Upper House effectively brings down the half-way mark, making it easier for the Bill to be enacted as a legislation. 16 members of Parliament remained absent from voting.

On Wednesday, the Sena opposed the Bill in Rajya Sabha during the debate, saying the draft law should have been debated on the basis of "humanity not religion". The Sena does not need to prove how "staunch Hindu" and "patriotic" the party is, Sanjay Raut said while participating in a debate on the Bill in the Upper House.

"We should discuss this Bill based on humanity not on religion. There is a difference between intruders and refugees," said Raut, whose party is a former ally of the BJP.

The Sena recently formed government in Maharashtra along with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there.

The Sena member also attacked some MPs who said on Tuesday that those opposing the Bill were "traitors" and "speaking the language of Pakistan".

"We don't need any certificate to prove how patriotic we are and how staunch Hindu we are. We are headmaster in a school that you study. Our school headmaster was Bal Thackeray and Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We believe in them," he added.

This is not the Pakistan assembly. People in India have voted for members sitting in the treasury as well as opposition benches, the Sena MP said.

"If you don't like Pakistan's language, there is a majority government which can eliminate Pakistan. We are with you," he said, adding that the party supported the government in revoking Article 370.

He also said there is protest against the Bill in many parts of the country. There is violence in Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

(With inputs from PTI)

first published:December 11, 2019, 20:26 IST