New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Gorakhpur, Ravi Kishan, on Wednesday courted a controversy by terming India a "Hindu Rashtra" as the majority of the population belongs to this religious community.
Speaking in the backdrop of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill being cleared by the Union Cabinet, the actor-turned-politician said, "The population of Hindus is 100 crore, so obviously India is a Hindu Rashtra. There are so many Muslim and Christian countries, so it is amazing that we have a country called 'Bharat' to keep alive our culture."
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which aims to provide citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, is set to be tabled in Parliament next week. The bill has been opposed by several opposition parties, with the Congress threatening to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the legislation.
The Cabinet approval to the Bill came barely hours after Union Home Minister Amit Shah completed his marathon interactions, spread over three days, with leaders of political parties, students bodies and civil society members from the Northeast to assuage their concerns.
Officials said the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those regions which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution are learnt to have been excluded from the purview of the bill.
In terms of Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, the Inner Line Permit system is prevalent in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Citizens of other states require ILP for visiting these three states.
Under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, autonomous councils and districts were created in tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The autonomous councils and districts enjoy certain executive and legislative powers.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI-M and a few other political parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill, claiming that citizenship can't be given on the basis of religion.
Despite facing serious opposition, including from ally JD-U, the BJP has expressed its determination to pass the bill.
The draft legislation is expected to sail through Lok Sabha, where the BJP has a majority, and is unlikely to face serious hurdles in Rajya Sabha as the saffron party has often managed the support of parties like the BJD, the TRS and the YSR Congress for its pet issues.
A large section of people and organisations in the Northeast have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.