Sonia Gandhi, Working President of the main opposition Indian National Congress (INC) has convened a meeting of all opposition parties on the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 on Monday. But chinks appeared in the opposition unity, as several parties have announced, they would not attend the joint meeting.
The Trinamool Congress, which rules India’s eastern state of West Bengal, and has been opposing the law tooth and nail, said it would not attend the meeting, but did not cite any reasons. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Delhi’s ruling Aam Admi Party (AAP) have also said they wouldn’t attend the meeting called by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The INC called the meeting of all opposition parties, to take stock of the “political situation in the country, in the aftermath of the widespread protests” against the controversial law, according to a Congress functionary. “The meeting aims at finalising a joint strategy on citizenship law and other political issues,” he added.
The amendments, enacted by Indian Parliament on 13 December, allow citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Since the new law was enacted, widespread protests erupted across India, with Opposition parties and civil rights activists claiming that the law was divisive as it grants Indian citizenship on religious grounds. After days of protests, Sonia Gandhi led a delegation of opposition parties to the Indian President on 16 December
Opposition unity against the Citizenship Law now seems to be wilting away. BSP Chief Mayawati tweeted on Monday that the party will not participate in the meeting because Congress was poaching its lawmakers in India’s western state of Rajasthan. “This is an act of betrayal by the Congress party,” said Mayawati.
AAP, which rules Delhi, has also declined participation in the meeting without giving any reason. The AAP and Congress will battle each other in the upcoming assembly elections for Delhi legislature on 8 February. Almost eight opposition parties have confirmed, they will attend the meeting called by Sonia Gandhi on Monday.