A close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday asserted that the JD(U)s support to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament was the party's official line and voices of dissent from some top office- bearers were their "personal opinions". Sanjay Jha, a state minister and JD(U) national general secretary known for his proximity to the Bihar chief minister who is the national president dismissed reports that disapproval of the party's stand in the Parliament by national vice-president Prashant Kishor and another national general secretary Pawan Varma was tantamount to a division in the party on the issue.
"The party's official line is clear. And it is there for all to see in the ongoing session of the Parliament. A leader or two may express a personal opinion but such isolated cases must not be construed as a division within the party on the issue", Jha said here.
On Monday, JD(U) vice president Prashant Kishor revolted against Nitish Kumar for backing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Parliament on Monday. He expressed his disappointment over the Bill granting India citizenship to immigrants from neighbouring countries on the basis of religion. Moreover, slammed the JDU for toeing a line against secularism and Gandhian ideals. In another attempt to demotivate his party MPs from backing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Prashant Kishor, on Wednesday, reminded the JD(U) leadership of those who 'reposed their faith' in the party back in 2015.
Pawan Varma, in a tweet directed to the chief minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar, said that Gandhiji would have 'strongly disapproved' the Bill, and accentuated how it stands against the 'unity and harmony' of India. "I urge Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and against the unity and harmony of the country, apart from being against the secular principles of the JDU. Gandhiji would have strongly disapproved it," Pawan Varma, the former diplomat said.
JD(U), a BJP ally, has 16 members in the Lower house of Parliament and six in the Upper house. The party's support to the contentious CAB Bill had given an opportunity to political rivals- RJD and Congress- to attack JD(U), which enjoys support among minority Muslims.
After the conclusion of a 7-hour-long debate, which saw the participation of 38 MPs from across the political spectrum, the Lok Sabha on Monday midnight passed the with 311 votes in favor and 80 against the Bill. According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, non-Muslim minorities, who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and moved to the country before December 31, 2014, will be accorded Indian citizenship. It, however, exempted tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, and areas covered under The Inner Line Permit system, notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
(With PTI inputs)