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Citizenship amendment bill may not get through in Winter session

Citizenship amendment bill may not get through in Winter session

New Delhi: The controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill may not able to get through during the Winter session of Parliament which comes to an end on January 8, sources said Sunday.

A meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which is examining the bill, will be held on Monday to finalise the proposed legislation before being submitted to the Lok Sabha.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians -- in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don't possess any proper document.

This was an election promise of the BJP in 2014.

"The bill is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha either on January 7 or 8. There is very little time for debate before it is passed in the Lower House and then in the Rajya Sabha," a source privy to the deliberations told PTI.

However, in Monday's meeting the BJP may have its way in incorporating some "contentious" provisions in the proposed legislation.

JPC chairman Rajendra Agrawal said the committee will try to finalise the bill through consensus after examining every clause. "However, if we cannot reach a consensus, we will go for voting, which is a standard procedure for Parliament," he said.

The BJP has 14 MPs, including Agrawal, in the 30-member panel. The Congress has four members while the Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal have two MPs each. The Shiv Sena, JD(U), TRS, TDP, CPI(M), AIADMK, SP, BSP have one member each in the panel. The Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and a few other parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill claiming that citizenship can't be given on basis of religion.

"If there is a voting, the BJP is likely to have its way in incorporating some contentious clauses. Monday's meeting is very crucial," sources said.

In the last meeting of the JPC, held on November 27, opposition members moved clause-by-clause amendments and one Congress MP sought removal of Bangladesh from the purview of the proposed legislation. Interestingly, an NDA member suggested that Assam, where the bill received strong opposition, should be excluded from the ambit of the legislation.

Various members from opposition parties have been asserting that citizenship is a constitutional provision and it cannot be based on religion, as India is a secular nation.

Rather than resolving the situation in Assam, this bill is making the condition more volatile in the already tense state, an opposition member in the panel had said.



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