Citizenship Bill necessary, says Shah

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Sunday said that the government was speaking to all parties, both within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and outside, in the wake of the controversy in the northeast over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and trying to evolve a consensus. “Home Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to some parties separately and will be meeting more through the Parliament session and their suggestions on the Bill are also welcome for a consensus,” he said. At a press conference here while launching the crowdsourcing drive for the party’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Shah reiterated strongly the BJP’s desire to get the Bill passed in Parliament, but indicated with the above statement that it might not happen in this session. “There are some decisions that are acceptable to some, not acceptable to others. The BJP has thought deeply about the Citizenship Amendment Bill before bringing it. We cannot leave a large swathe of people fleeing persecution hanging in mid-air. We believe that the Bill is necessary for the country,” the BJP president added. There have been big protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill across the northeast as there are fears that the entry of refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh will upset the delicate demographic balance of the States in the region and especially hurt indigenous groups. Sources in the BJP confirmed that the party was “buying time” over the issue, and going ahead with steps to mollify indigenous populations in the area, such as recognising communities as tribals and handing more autonomy to tribal councils.

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