From Amit Shah to Top Ministers, How BJP Plans to Repeat Art 370 Strategy for Citizenship Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha
Home Minister Amit Shah arrives at the Parliament House during the ongoing Winter Session, in New Delhi. (Image: AFP)
New Delhi: As the Union Home Minister Amit Shah is all set to bring the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 to Rajya Sabha mid this week, all preparations are in place for it's smooth passage. Government floor managers have been on the task for days now to stack up the numbers.
How Will Numbers Work
For the UPA-led opposition backed by Congress and Trinamool Congress Party, the figures look lesser than 100 out of the House's total strength of 245 with five vacancies.
Congress has 46 MPs with one guaranteed absentee in Motilal Vohra, who is sure to miss out due to health concerns.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool has 13 members in the Upper House. Samajwadi Party has a strength of nine, DMK has five, RJD and BSP both four, and a piece with other smaller parties adds up to 100, considering that apart from Vohra one other MP will miss out because of medical issues.
Now taking a look at the Bharatiya Janta Party-led NDA and their numbers, the saffron party stands at a strength of 83 by itself, including the induction of newly-elected MPs Arun Singh and KC Ramamurthy.
Shiromani Akali Dal has three MPs, another ally AIADMK contributes with 11 member votes. Nitish Kumar's JDU has decided to support the Bill with six crucial votes in place. Twelve others, including nominated MPs, independents and smaller parties and allies from the North East, only add to the tally.
Recently, there was a lot of bad blood between BJP and one of it's key allies Shiv Sena that led to it's bitter breakup. Despite being in the opposition, Uddhav Thackeray's party has chosen to support the Bill. Sources in the party say, it's more in national interest than sheer politics.
Neutral parties are yet to come to the rescue of the saffron party-led central government.
Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal has given its assent with seven votes. The party, however, may demand some alterations to the proposed amendments.
The TRS with six MPs and YS Jagan's YSRCP with two votes is a given as it's enemy in the state and BJP's former ally Telugu Desam Party, who will also contribute with two votes.
At least 2 BJP MPs, including Anil Baluni is on medical leave and two other independent candidates in support also missing out. The NDA plus numbers are comfortably sitting at 132 way above the midway mark of 120.
Top Lawmakers at Work
Floor managers, including Amit Shah's close knit team, has been on the task since the beginning of the Winter Session. A similar drill, like in case of passage of abrogation of Article 370, is in place.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been able to get AIADMK on board as his Cabinet colleague Dharmendra Pradhan, who has kept BJD in the loop.
Party's General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav is speaking to the JDU. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi has been speaking to smaller parties, including TRS, YSR and TDP.
Rajya Sabha MP and party's newly discovered floor manager, CM Ramesh, has been brought in to manage any extra numbers including persuading some opposition members to abstain.
Ensuring complete attendance of BJP MPs is a task assigned to MoS Parliamentary Affairs Minister V Muraleedharan.
BJP's strongman and face of the NEDA, Himanta Biswa Sarma, has been entrusted with the responsibility to touch base with parties and MPs from the North East and to keep them focused on smooth passage of the Bill.
It goes without saying that the Union Home Minister himself will work the phone lines and speak to party's top leaders both before and after the passage of the Bill.
Government sources indicate many more abstentions from the opposition side will only reduce the overall strength of the House. As per their calculation, opposition won't clock more than 80 to 85 votes.
Members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship, according to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2019.
For pacifying the Tribals of the Northeast, Union govt has ensured under Bill will not be applicable in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those tribal regions that are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.