New Delhi: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would support the Citizenship Amendment Bill which seeks to grant citizenship to six minorities, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh if they faced religious persecution in these countries.
The Union government is likely to table the Bill in the Parliament next week. Sources said the new Bill exempts Inner-Line Permit (ILP) states and sixth schedule areas in the states of Northeast from the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Sixth schedule covers parts of Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam and Mizoram while ILP is applicable in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
While speaking to Orissa POST, senior BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the party would support the Bill in the House if the Centre has addressed the northeast situation appropriately in the new Bill.
“We have to see the Bill. Our only concern is northeast which is fragile because of large influx of foreigners into that part of the country. If the new citizenship Bill takes care of northeast, we are in support of it,” Mahtab said.
The Cuttack MP also supported the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to the non-muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh if they faced religious persecution in these countries.
Earlier, Mahtab had opposed the draft legislation citing that it would accentuate discontent in northeast.
The BJD MP had written in his dissent note that, “Already the population density in Assam is very high and if the present Bill is enacted and brought into force, illegal immigrants, who have entered Assam and built their residences in the state and even encroached upon government land, will become entitled to Indian citizenship.”
Another senior BJD MP, who doesn’t want to be named, said the party will support the Bill in both the Houses.
Significantly, the opposition parties have been opposing the Bill citing that it is fundamentally against the tenets of the democracy.
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has brute majority in the Lok Sabha, it needs the support of regional parties in the Rajya Sabha, where it lacks numbers, to pass the Bill. The BJD with six MPs in the Rajya Sabha will have a crucial role in the Upper House.
Sources said the YSR Congress party of Andhra Pradesh, having two MPs in Rajya Sabha, is likely to support the Bill.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK MP Vijila Sathyananth said that the party MPs are going to Chennai Wednesday and will talk to their leader on the issue.
Earlier, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had asked BJP MPs to be present in the Parliament in large numbers to make sure passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill.