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Inconclusive end

Inconclusive end

As the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, failed to get tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the northeast erupted in joy at having secured, what they would like to call, a sweet victory in the backdrop of violent protests and ruckus caused because of it. The euphoria could be witnessed across the northeast as people took to streets to celebrate the Centre's failure in tabling the bill in the upper house. The unified protest by the northeast opposed the Bill which was seen as violating the terms of the 1985 Assam Accord, proposing to grant citizenship to six religious minorities – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians – from neighbouring countries who came to India before December 31, 2014, as against March 24, 1971 – cut-off for Assam Accord. The apprehensions of indigenous people gained momentum since the bill was aimed at providing citizenship to undocumented Hindus and others from Bangladesh. Ethically, it is unfair to the natives there who cannot be condemned for their insecurity regarding this, especially with the government changing the ground rules to pursue its 'akhand Bharat' agenda.

The Lok Sabha had passed the bill on January 8, 2019, with strong protests being staged against the bill in the entire northeastern region. Even the BJP-allied regional parties had expressed dissent over such a move as the Centre adamantly looked forward to tabling the bill in Rajya Sabha. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is set to renew ties after the bill collapsed since it had withdrawn support to the Sabrananda Sonowal government upon Bill's introduction in the lower house. While Himanta Biswa Sarma advocated how BJP's bid to prevent Assam from becoming a Bangladeshi Muslim majority State is a commitment that they will pursue once they have the numbers, Manipur CM N Biren Singh thanked the PM for not tabling the Bill and instead opting for a "consensus-driven approach". Now that the Rajya Sabha has been adjourned without discussing the Bill, it has surely lapsed which means that the Bill now will have to be reintroduced in the Lok Sabha. What is interesting to note is how the Bill, though effectively lapsed upon dissolution of the House, can still be implemented through via ordinance. Of course, the ordinance route requires the House to be not in session, which it isn't, and sense of urgency which then needs the President's assent, something the lotus party can manage if they really wish to. It is not just this Bill which lapsed. Three other contentious Bills passed by the lower house – the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill or the Triple Talaq Bill, the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2019, and the Transgender Persons (Protection) of Rights Bill, 2019 – all lapsed as they were not passed by the Rajya Sabha in the concluding session of the 16th Lok Sabha. Now, collectively, the hours spent scrutinising these besides tabling and passing, and the effort put in by the legislators effectively goes in vain. Meanwhile, BJP will now focus a bit on the northeast since its Citizenship Amendment exercise has left the region in a state of dissent – something that should not be the case right before the country goes into polls. BJP holds the majority of the northeast and hence will be eager to ensure the seats from there for the upcoming polls.

It was interesting to see Narendra Modi advocate the idea of a majority government as a must for stability in his last speech to the Lok Sabha. His statement reinvigorates BJP's "decisive leadership" stance over the opposition's brewing grand alliance. Hailing a full mandate as decisive over fractured mandates which have made the country suffer, Modi asserted how a full mandate has raised the status of the country in the global picture. Of course, it is for this full mandate reason that bills were passed in Lok Sabha whenever tabled simply because the majority was with BJP's. In that case, Rajya Sabha had become the actual point of scrutiny – something that also has not yielded much to the country in recent sessions because of being inconclusive as witnessed. While the debate over partial or full mandate can incessantly continue, the mandate will surely take into account the issues floating in the country today and the inconclusive sessions of Parliament before deciding whom shall it give the next five years at the helm. If both the Houses extensively scrutinise bills, lapse will be prevented. In the end, the layman wonders the point of all those discussions over triple talaq, citizenship, et al, that sparked a hot debate across the nation but yielded nothing but chaos and conundrum.

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