A day after deciding to back the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday has demanded an amendment to the current draft which is to be tabled in the Lok Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah, while speaking to Republic TV exclusively. Slamming vote-bank politics, he said that the refugees who enter through the Citizenship Bill must not be given voting rights for 25 years. He said that by that stipulated time, the accusation of vote bank politics will die down.
"We have demanded that these vote bank politics should not happen. We have set a demand as mentioned in Saamana, that those whom you get here should not be given voting rights for 25 years. By then the accusation will expire," he said.
Slamming the BJP over the fate of the Kashmiri pandits, Raut further asked as to why they were still living like refugees. He suggested that the refugees entering India through the Bill should be settled in Srinagar. Moreover, when asked about defying Congress and NCP's stance on the bill, he said that Sena cannot follow anyone blindly.
"What did you all do for the Kashmiri pandits? They are still sitting as refugees in our own country. Not a single Kashmiri pandit has returned to Jammu or Srinagar. Then all these people you want to get from these 4-5 countries, you make them settle in Srinagar," he added. On being asked on Congress' stance defying the Bill, he said, "State is different and Centre is different. We cannot just support anyone blindly. Home Minister must think as to why the bill is being opposed in north-east."
Earlier on Sunday, sources reported that Shiv Sena has decided to back the BJP by extending its support to the Bill. Most opposition parties like Congress, CPI (M), most north-eastern parties, AIMIM, Trinamool Congress have openly revolted against the bill, calling it unconstitutional and against India's secularity. There are ongoing protests outside the parliament, Jantar Mantar and Assam.
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. The CMP's preamble declares that the alliance will take a joint view on matters which have consequences on the 'secular fabric of the nation'. Shiv Sena from its inception to date has been a strong advocate of Hindutva - which has been a major reason for the BJP-Sena's three-decade strong alliance.
First introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, the bill was finally passed by the Lok Sabha in January 2019. Protests, which first sprung in 2016, have already reportedly sprung around Assam this week led by the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), which has stated that the will not be accepted by people. Massive faceoff is expected over the Bill in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP does not hold an absolute majority. The Citizenship Amendment Bill amends the Citizenship Act 1955 to make refugees who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.