BARELY 12 hours after voting in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha, the Shiv Sena did a flip-flop on the issue, with party president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray making it clear that his party’s support in the Rajya Sabha should not be taken for granted.
Sources said Thackeray had to articulate the party’s change of stand after the Congress, a partner in the Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra, expressed strong displeasure over Shiv Sena’s support to the Bill during the Lok Sabha debate on Monday.
With Rahul Gandhi himself raising the red flag, the Congress on Tuesday pressed Thackeray for reviewing his party’s stance before the crucial vote on the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Calling the Bill as a move that would “destroy” the foundation of India, Gandhi, in an early morning tweet, wrote, “The #CAB is an attack on the Indian Constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation.” Taking cue from the post, Maharashtra’s former Minorities Development Minister Arif (Naseem) Khan, who is also a vice president in the Maharashtra Congress, issued a release, claiming that Shiv Sena’s vote for the Bill in the Lok Sabha had amounted to the flouting of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) drawn up between the Sena, Congress and NCP in the state.
“In Maharashtra, the Congress supported the Shiv Sena and the NCP to form a government on the basis of the CMP for the sake of the state’s development. But the manner in which the Shiv Sena voted for the CAB without taking their coalition partners into confidence is unethical. It shows that the Shiv Sena has not followed the CMP and has indirectly backed the BJP. It should clarify its stance.”
Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Hussain Dalwai, while pointing out that an editorial in Saamana on Monday had spoken out against the Bill, opined that the Sena should have walked out of the House or abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha.
With both the parties not on the same page, Sena leader Sanjay Raut had to do some troubleshooting. Raut, also a Rajya Sabha MP, was the first to articulate the party’s altered stand on the issue. “It’s an evolving situation.” Later Thackeray clarified the party’s stand over the vote in Rajya Sabha. But before doing that, sources confirmed that he had a word with NCP president Sharad Pawar over the matter.
Referring to the debate in Lok Sabha over the Bill, Mumbai Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam tweeted, “It is an eye-opener for those who are having illusions that the Shiv Sena after joining hands with Congress has become secular,” he tweeted.