The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, cleared by the Lok Sabha after a fierce 12-hour debate on Monday, will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Sources in the ruling BJP said the party is confident of the bill making it through the upper house.
While the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) enjoy an overwhelming majority in the lower house that helped it get 334 votes in favour of the bill and 106 against in the lower house, the party’s hold on the Rajya Sabha is wobblier.
With a current strength of 240, the majority mark in the upper house is 121. The NDA, which includes parties like AIADMK, Janata Dal United and the Akali Dal, has 116 members and expects the support of 14 others, taking its numbers to 130.
The 14 includes three members of the Shiv Sena, a former BJP ally that voted in favour of the Bill in the Lok Sabha but has said its support in the Rajya Sabha is not certain. Even if the Sena abstains, the BJP will not have reason to worry as it will bring down the majority mark.
Seven members of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, two of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP and two of Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP are also among the 14 non-aligned lawmakers.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has 64 members and expects 46 others, like the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Communist Party of India (Marxist), to oppose the bill, taking its total to 110.
Opposition ranks have been boosted by the decision of the six-member TRS, which has often backed the Modi government on its key legislative agenda, to oppose the bill.
Some members, like the ailing Amar Singh, may not attend the House for health or other personal reasons.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill around midnight on Monday that will grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries, but not Muslims, amid raucous scenes in parliament and protests in the country’s northeast.
The controversial legislation provides that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing persecution in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan can be granted citizenship. Opposition parties stood against the proposed law that would, for the first time, create a legal pathway to grant Indian nationality on the basis of religion