The Lok Sabha is currently debating the Citizenship Amendment Bill which was tabled on the floor of the house on Monday. The contentious bill proposes a path to citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The government argues that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and others are minorities in these nations and face religious persecution.
293 members voted in favour of the introduction of the amended citizenship bill. 82 lawmakers voted against it. There were heated arguments on the floor of the house as the opposition alleged that the bill violates the principles of equality and secularism, guaranteed by the constitution. Home minister Amit Shah hit back saying that the bill does not contravene any clause of the constitution. He said that the bill does not say that it will take away the rights of Muslim people.
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Remember, the BJP is in a majority in the Lok Sabha. Hence, the government will not have much difficulty in ensuring that the bill gets passed in the lower house. However, the government faces a real challenge in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have the numbers.
The bill seeks to give citizenship to immigrants of six specified religions from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh by easing the rules wherein a stay of only five years is required as against 11 years in normal cases where immigrants have to apply for citizenship. The bill also says any illegal immigrant from these specified communities if they have entered India before December 31 2014 will be eligible to apply.