Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday said the dynamics in the Rajya Sabha were different from that of the Lok Sabha and asserted that the government will have to answer their queries on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill before they can expect support from the Maharashtra-based party.
The bill has been tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Sena, which supported the bill in the Lok Sabha, did a U-turn on Tuesday when its chief Uddhav Thackeray indicated that its support was conditional in the Upper House of Parliament.
"Lok Sabha numbers are different, the situation in the Rajya Sabha is different. The government has to reply to our queries. Vote-bank politics is not right. You are trying to create a Hindu-Muslim divide in the country yet again, leave it," Raut told reporters on the Parliament premises.
The Sena leader, however, did not give a direct answer on whether his party would support the bill in the Rajya Sabha. He asserted that the current stand of the Sena was not due to pressure from the Congress or any other party.
"No one can exert pressure on us, what is in our hearts, is on our lips," he said.
Raut also said the Citizenship Bill raised issues not of "politics", but about "humanity".
"You are talking of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, not of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The situation of the Hindus in Nepal is much worse with infiltration from China and Pakistan in the region. The Hindus cannot even acknowledge the fact that they are Hindus. So, it is not about politics, but humanity. And humanity does not have any religion," he said.
After supporting the bill in the Lower House, Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said he would not back the proposed legislation in the Rajya Sabha till there was a clarity on the questions raised by his party in the Lok Sabha.
The Sena has three members in the Rajya Sabha.
"We have to clear our doubts on the bill. If we do not get satisfactory answers, our stand could be different from the one in the Lok Sabha," Raut said, reiterating Thackeray's comments.
Slamming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its stand that whoever opposed the bill was speaking the language of Pakistan, he said the Sena did not need lessons on nationalism from anyone.
"We have sacrificed more for the country than you. The citizens of this country are patriots and they do not need to go to any school for certification of their nationalism. We have also faced a lot. We do not need lessons in nationalism from the BJP," Raut said.
Sources in the BJP-led NDA said they were sure of securing 124-130 votes in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 240.
The opposition ranks have been boosted by the decision of the six-member Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has often backed the Modi government on its key legislative agenda, to oppose the bill.
BJP allies AIADMK, JD(U) and Akali Dal have 11, six and three members respectively in the Upper House, besides regional parties like the BJD with seven MPs, the YSR Congress Party and the TDP with two members each backing the bill. The BJP has 83 members in the Rajya Sabha.
Seven independents and nominated members, besides a number of regional parties with one member each, will back the bill, the floor managers of the BJP said.
The opposition camp includes the Congress, the TMC, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party, the DMK, the RJD, the Left parties, the NCP and the TRS with 46, 13, four, nine, five, four, six, four and six members respectively, totalling 97.
The support of the Shiv Sena, the Aam Aadmi Party and some smaller parties may take the opposition tally near 110.