NEW DELHI: Facing a backlash in the Northeast, the Centre may not table the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, sources in the government said. The government reportedly made up its mind on Monday after an unproductive meeting with the chief ministers of two Northeastern states, sources told this newspaper.
At the meeting called by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, both Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his Manipur counterpart N Biren Singh voiced their opposition to the Bill and urged the Home Minister to ensure it was not passed in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill, which seeks to provide Indian nationality to non-Muslims who migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was passed by the Lok Sabha during the winter session on January 8.
During the 30-minute meeting, also attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs the two chief ministers apprised the minister about the prevailing situation in the Northeast, which has been witnessing relentless protests against the Bill.
“This was government’s last full-fledged attempt to get the Northeastern states on board for the Bill before the Parliament session expires. But a consensus was not built on the issue. The Centre will not table the Bill (in the Rajya Sabha) unless all stakeholders are on board,” said a senior government official.
According to sources, the two CMs requested the Home Minister not to pass the Bill before convincing the people of the Northeast and sought protection of their cultural and linguistic identity, a MHA official said. Singh asked them not to worry and assured that the rights of the indigenous people of the Northeast would not be diluted.
Assam and other Northeastern states have been witnessing fierce protests since the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha.