Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. (file photo)
The Janata Dal (United)'s decision to back the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Lok Sabha did not find support within the party as two senior leaders, Pavan K Varma and Prashant Kishor, expressed concern that the bill is discriminatory and against the ideals espoused by Mahatma Gandhi.
JD(U) national vice-president Kishor was the first to react on the party's stand, saying the bill "discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion".
"Disappointed to see JDU supporting #CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals," he tweeted.
JD(U) national spokesperson urged party chief Nitish Kumar to reconsider support to the bill when tabled in 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," he tweeted.
Cleared last Wednesday by the Union Cabinet, the Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — it leaves out Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until December 31, 2014.
Incidentally, the JD(U), an ally of the BJP in Bihar, opposed the triple talaq bill in Parliament earlier this year. The party staged a walkout along with other Opposition parties when it was passed in Lok Sabha in July.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 criminalises instant triple talaq among Muslims and attracts a jail term of three years for the husband.
Meanwhile, former NDA ally Shiv Sena did a u-turn on the issue after claiming passage of the bill could lead to an “invisible partition of India“.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant told NDTV that the party supported the bill in the “interest of the nation”. “The CMP (common minimum programme) is applicable in Maharashtra only,” he added.
Sawant was a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, but quit after Sena joined hands with Congress and NCP to form government in Maharashtra.