Citizenship Amendment Bill will face the Rajya Sabha test on Wednesday after a smooth passage in the lower house. Union Home Minister Amit Shah led a typically strong front of the BJP+ in the Lok Sabha to pass the contentious bill with a majority of 311 votes in favour. Now, the number game in Rajya Sabha is something everyone would be keenly watching.
BJP's historically ideological ally, Shiv Sena, who recently kept BJP out of power in Maharashtra by forming an alliance with the Congress and the NCP, did vote in favor of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha but also made it clear that the path in Rajya Sabha is going to be somewhat complicated. Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday, said, "BJP did not give answer Shiv Sena's doubts in the Lok Sabha, the Home Minister answered everyone except us. In Rajya Sabha, BJP will have to give answers to questions asked by the Sena MPs if they want us to vote in favour of the CAB. I believe there should be a more thorough discussion of the matter in the upper house."
On the other hand, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has pledged the support of its 11 MPs to the CAB.
So will the government be able to sail through the Rajya Sabha? How do the numbers stack up in the upper house? Let's find out.
The Rajya Sabha Test
In a house of 240, the government will need a minimum of 121 votes in their favour to have the Citizenship Amendment Bill pass in Rajya Sabha. Currently, the BJP has 83 MPs in the upper house. To cross the halfway mark, the party needs another 38 MPs to vote in their favour. Considering AIADMK's 11 MPs votes, BJP's number stands at 94. If we add the rest of the NDA members including the SAD(3), JDU(6), BJD(7) + the nominated MPs(4) and the rest(11) of those who are expected to vote in favour of the CAB, the total count of the government stands at 125, which is 5 more than the halfway mark.
Shiv Sena has 3 MPs in the upper house who are still undecided on their vote.
The Congress-led Opposition is unlikely to be as helpless in the Rajya Sabha as they were in the Lok Sabha. The Congress has 46 MPs, Trinamool Congress has 13 and they have the support of Samajwadi Party, Left, Communist Party amongst others. Their count is likely to stand at around 70. There will be approximately 50 non-aligned MPs who can make a difference in the Bill getting passed.
BJP confident of numbers
BJP is confident that the proposed legislation will be passed by the House with a comfortable majority on Wednesday when it is scheduled to be taken up for discussion. Sources in the BJP-led NDA said they were sure of getting near 124-130 votes in the Upper House which has an effective strength of 240 members.
According to the proposed legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, after facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
Though the opposition has slammed the bill, alleging it is discriminatory against Muslims and violates the Constitution, Home Minister Amit Shah has asserted that people belonging to any religion should not have any fear under the Modi government.
The proposed law will give relief to those minorities who have been living a painful life after facing persecution in neighbouring countries, he said.