New Delhi: The Modi government had taken the US Congress into confidence on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 the day it was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week, sources told ThePrint.
According to official sources, it’s a practice for India and the US to share important policy decisions of mutual interest. This is why, they said, the US Congress was informed about the bill before it was presented for passage in Parliament Monday.
The bill, which has triggered several protests across India, has now been cleared by both Houses of Parliament.
Speaking to ThePrint, the aforementioned sources also said that even though discussions were already underway at the diplomatic level, Indian missions in some key countries such as the US and the UK were told to “immediately” have discussions with the local political leadership once the bill was passed.
However, hours after the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha, a foreign affairs panel of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the US Congress, had slammed India for what it referred to as a “religious test for citizenship”.
The proposed law, it added, threatened religious pluralism, a “basic democratic tenet”.
The same day, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal group, also sought sanctions on Home Minister Amit Shah and leaders in the Narendra Modi government if the bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament.
Speaking to the media Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India expected members of the US Congress to take New Delhi’s views into account before “drawing a conclusion” on the matter.
“We have reached out to the members (both Republicans and Democrats) of the US Congress. The US Congress has been supportive of us on issues of mutual interest …” he added.
“We have also reached out to other stakeholders on the bill,” he said, adding that India had tried to reach all the countries that had approached the government to understand the nuances of the citizenship bill.
‘No locus standi’
India had rejected both statements from the US panels, particularly the one made by the USCIRF, stating that it had no “locus standi on the matter”.
“The Bill provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities already in India from certain contiguous countries,” Kumar had said Tuesday, adding that the bill seeks “to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights”.
The European Union Ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, also said that he hoped the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be implemented in keeping with standards set by the Indian Constitution.