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News18 » India
3-min read

Discontent Brews in JD(U) over Support to Citizenship Bill as Prashant Kishor Says He Won't Stop Opposing

The party's national vice-president Prashant Kishor declared that he was 'not giving up' his opposition to the legislation while its Muslim MLAs and MLCs propose to seek an audience with the chief minister.


Updated:December 12, 2019, 9:08 PM IST
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Discontent Brews in JD(U) over Support to Citizenship Bill as Prashant Kishor Says He Won't Stop Opposing
File photo of Prashant Kishor.

Patna: Discontent brewed in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) on Thursday in the wake of the party's support to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed by

both Houses of Parliament.

The JD(U) voted in favour of the Bill in the Lok Sabha as well in the Rajya Sabha. The Legislation seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing adjacent Islamic republics because of "persecution".

The party's national vice-president Prashant Kishor declared that he was "not giving up" his opposition to the legislation while its Muslim MLAs and MLCs propose to seek an

audience with the chief minister who heads the party and apprises him of their anxieties.

"We are told that #CAB is bill to grant citizenship and not to take it from anyone. But the truth is together with #NRC, it could turn into a lethal combo in the hands of

Government to systematically discriminate and even prosecute people based on religion.#NotGivingUp", Kishor who has been lambasting his own party over the issue tweeted.

Besides Kishor, another top office-bearer of the party Pavan K Varma, a national general secretary, had similarly criticized the party stance a couple of days ago holding that

the legislation was "unconstitutional" and "discriminatory" besides being "against the secular principles of the JD(U)".

Varma, however, did not make any fresh comment after voicing disagreement in the wake of the party voting in favour of the Bill in the Lol Sabha. Moreover, JD(U) MLA Mujahid Alam who represents Kochadhaman assembly segment of Muslim-dominated Kishanganj district told PTI "we are under tremendous pressure from our

voters who have misgivings about CAB.

"People like myself and Ghulam Rasool Balyawi (MLC) and even non-Muslim MLAs and MLCs who have reservations about the legislation are planning to jointly seek an appointment with the Chief Minister and apprise him of our anxieties", Alam said.

Notably, Balyawi had on Wednesday shot off a letter urging Kumar to do a rethink and not support the Bill in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP did not have a majority. However, his appeal was rebuffed by RCP Singh, the party's leader in the Upper House and a close aide of the chief minister who asked MPs to vote in favor of the Bill and pay no

attention to Balyawis remonstrations.

Speculations were rife that Kumar, known to brook no dissent, might crack the whip on recalcitrant leaders. Meanwhile, the drama provided the opposition Grand

Alliance with fresh ammunition to train its guns at the Bihar chief minister.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is the leader of the opposition, came out with a flurry of tweets attacking Kumar and pointing out that after initially opposing NRC despite

alliance with BJP, the JD(U) chiefs support to CAB marked yet another political U-turn.

Yadav, who is the younger son and heir apparent of Lalu Prasad, has been using the epithet "Palturam" (turncoat) for Kumar ever since he abruptly ended the alliance with the RJD in 2017 and returned to the NDA barely four years after having walked out.

Congress leader Kaukab Qadri fumed, "despite his dalliances with communal forces, Muslims of Bihar did have a soft corner for Nitish Kumar. That would be a thing of the

past now. He just needs to step out of his ivory tower and try to feel the public mood on the streets".

"His capitulation before the BJP is appalling. And the defence of his stance by his cronies is galling. We are being told that Muslims are not going to be deprived of their citizenship as a result of CAB.

"But can it be an excuse for granting citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants? JD(U) leaders should know that a country like Saudi Arabia, which is home to the holiest of

Islamic shrines, does not grant such largesse to Muslims from elsewhere" Qadri, who is BPCC working president, said.

"Moreover, we have a problem with this too clever by half attempt to identify only Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as countries where minorities faced persecution. Why not

extend the magnanimity to other neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan?" he said.

Qadri also joined RLSP national secretary general Madhaw Anand and HAM spokesman Danish Rizwan in urging Prashant Kishor to "give up the JD(U)s membership and join the anti- NDA front which would welcome him".

The BJP watched the developments with bemusement and sources in the partys Bihar unit said on condition of anonymity "we are grateful to Nitish Kumar but even we have

been taken aback by his gesture.

"Although we hold that CAB is not anti-Muslim, perceptions do matter in politics and the cm has taken a huge gamble and may end up depending on BJPs vote bank more than

ever", the said.

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