Shiv Sena's stand on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has been quite ambivalent. The saffron party's stance has oscillated between supporting former ally BJP or wearing the newly acquired 'secular' badge with Maharashtra allies NCP-Congress. On Wednesday, reports emerged that the Congress party has allegedly threatened the Shiv Sena over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, to change their stand.
As per sources, Sena might take a U-turn over the issue in the Rajya Sabha after backing the Bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday post-midnight. According to sources, the Sena was told by top Congress brass that Cabinet berths were not important, hinting a probable pull-out from the Maha Vikar Aghadi.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan escaping religious persecution there, saying it was violative of various provisions of the Constitution, including a move to grant citizenship on the basis of religion. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled by the Home Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday noon.
During the debate in the Lower House of the Parliament, Shiv Sena stated that if the intention of the bill is to “create a vote bank” by providing citizenship to foreign Hindus then it is not good for the country. Sena supported the Bill, however, suggested that voting rights should not be given to the new citizens for 25 years.
The party, however, seemed unassertive since former Union Minister and senior Sena leader Arvind Sawant said that they will support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha since they will not be playing different roles. When questioned if the Shiv Sena will support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Upper House following their backing in the Lok Sabha, the Shiv Sena MP said, "How can we have different roles. Shiv Sena stands in favour of India. This is not anybody's monopoly."
On Tuesday, the saffron party backtracked from its stand and said that it would reconsider its position in the Rajya Sabha. Sena Chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray stated that his party would not support the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha unless all questions asked by its MPs receive a proper answer. The confusion in the Shiv Sena has been fueled further by Congress' Rahul Gandhi, who opposed the Bill in a tweet and said that it attacks the Indian Constitution and any party supporting it is destroying the foundation of the country. Again on Wednesday, Sanjay Raut stated that the party's stand in Rajya Sabha over the Citizenship Amendment Bill may differ from their stand in Lok Sabha but left an air of ambiguity around this statement.
This move of the Sena backing the CAB is in direct contradiction to its recently formed Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance's stance. Shiv Sena which allied with the 'secular' Congress, had recently released its 'secular' joint Common Minimum Programme. Until the recent fallout between the saffron allies, Shiv Sena has often echoed the stand of the BJP on prominent issues like the building of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir, Bharat Ratna for Savarkar, abrogation of Article 370 among others.