Assam Congress asks party to vote against Citizenship Bill

The Congress may have walked out of the Lok Sabha last week when the Citizenship Amendment Bill was moved for passage, but the party’s State unit now wants its leaders to vote against it when the Bill comes up in the Rajya Sabha.

A delegation of the legal cell of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC), led by Supreme Court lawyer Krishna Sarma, called upon Rajya Sabha members Ahmed Patel and Kapil Sibal to impress upon the national leaders the need to vote against the Bill.

Sources say the delegation now plans to approach Congress president Rahul Gandhi to argue that the party should take a “clear position” and vote against the Bill.

The Bill, which seeks to allow citizenship rights to Bangladeshi Hindus, has divided the party within the State. While leaders, including Lok Sabha member Sushmita Dev, from the Barak Valley cannot afford to oppose the Bill, those from the Bramhaputra Valley cannot support it. A source told The Hindu that on January 8, a delegation of Congress leaders from Assam, including State unit chief Ripun Bora, had a meeting with Mr. Patel close to midnight where Assam Congress leaders urged him to ensure that Opposition leaders did not allow the Bill to be taken up on the last day.

Mr. Patel is then learnt to have worked the phone lines to formulate a common Opposition strategy. With a majority of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam at stake, the Congress now wants the Bill to be pushed to the back burner. “The challenge for us is either defeat the Bill or don’t allow it to be taken up during the Budget session,” a Congress leader said.

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