In what is seen as a victory of India, the European Union Parliament has decided to postpone voting on a draft resolution on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to March. The matter will be taken up in the last week of March 30-31st. Call for delay of voting was initiated by the European People’s Party group (EPP) and it ended in 271 in favour, 199 against and 13 abstentions. India has been maintained and that the CAA was adopted after a democratic process and is internal to India.
Expressing hope that India's perspectives in the matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs, sources have said "Friends of India have prevailed over the Friends of Pakistan".
Though the EU already distanced itself from the developments in the EU Parliament on the 6th draft resolution on Kashmir/CAA, the voting is now expected to take place post March 13, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Brussels for the India-EU Summit.
The EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, Virginie Battu-Henriksson, has said that "The official position of the European Union is not represented by the European Parliament and its members."
What was the vote for?
The initial six EU Parliament resolutions were against the CAA and talked of the negative impact it would have once the National Register of Citizens is implemented.
Out of these the most critical resolution was moved by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. This is the second-largest political group in the European Parliament.
According to this group the CAA had the potential to "create the largest statelessness crisis in the world".
According to experts the delay in the voting is of special significance as Prime Minister Modi will be visiting Brussels for the India-EU summit on March 13.
The EU according to the government is the country's largest trading partner with euro 92 billion of trade in goods in 2018. And this accounts for 12.9% of the total trade. The EU is also the key destination for Indian exports.
Says Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU, "Indian diplomats can feel some satisfaction about the delay in the vote in the European parliament. They had worked hard and their efforts have provided at least temporary reprieve. But it is only a delay, while the Indian judiciary decides on the issue, and do we may be back in the same situation in a couple of months. Touting this as a big achievement is therefore premature. More importantly, it should be noted that India now has to expend political capital and diplomatic energy on issues that are not critical to its national security or wellbeing. This is thus a self-inflicted wound that will continue to bleed the country’s scarce diplomatic bandwidth and energy."
"Moreover, while India’s friends in Europe may stand with it, we are forcing them to take sides on an issue that they are clearly not very happy about. If they were, they would have laughed off this resolution instead of postponing the vote. They are hoping that the Indian judiciary will resolve the issue for them. Ultimately, they may support India but forcing them into such uncomfortable situations will not be beneficial in the longer term," Rajagopalan adds.
Says Prof Rajan Kumar, "The decision of the European Parliament to defer the voting on an anti-CAA resolution to a later date must have brought a sense of relief to Indian diplomats working overtime in Brussels to ensure such an outcome. India will have time to lobby with various political caucuses and present its views on CAA and NRC. However, this issue is likely to resurface intermittently in different forums and it won't be easy for Indian diplomats to convince every group on the virtues of contentious Citizenship Act."
According to Kumar, "The powerful European states, owing to their economic and strategic interests, will not censure India in their official statements, but autonomous groups, liberal media and intellectuals will keep raising this issue in various forums."
"Lobby by Pakistan to embarrass India is not new whether in the United Nations or other international forums. Surprisingly the failure of such ill-conceived efforts are also frequent. Once India decided to explain it to international partners the purpose of this act, passed by the parliament of a democratic secular country, it is naturally seen as innocuous compared to migration and citizenship policy of many European member countries, especially of Eastern Europe.
Not surprisingly first European countries rejected it individually then the same result was expected from European Parliament, opines Prof Ajay Dubey, Chairperson, Special Centre for National Security Studies, JNU.