If the European Parliament session starts in March for voting on India’s amended citizenship law (CAA), Britain’s 73 MPs, with most not known to be favourably disposed to India, are going to miss it. Many of these MPs were involved in bringing different resolutions against India. Britain is separating from the European Union in an exercise popularly referred to as Brexit on Friday. With this, the number of MPs of the European Parliament will be reduced from 751 to 678. Avoiding voting on CAA proposals, as a result, will be advantage India.
Before Brexit, Indian representative Gayatri Kumari in Brussels met various groups that drafted proposals on the CAA and apprised them of India’s need to bring this amendment in its 1955 law. After the talks, several groups agreed with India’s stand.
Sources say that Pakistan had brought a proposal against India on the CAA through the Labour and Liberal MPs of Britain in the European Parliament. These MPs belong to groups such as S&D and Renew Europe. These groups sponsored the proposals.
India’s parleys pre- & post-Brexit
Soon after Brexit, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar will visit Brussels in mid-February to prepare for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India-European Union summit on 13 March. Some European MPs said they would decide their stand in voting only after knowing Jaishankar’s views.
Additionally, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has written letters to the Speaker of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli. He wrote, “I understand that Joint Motion for Resolution has been introduced in the European Parliament on the Indian Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. This act provides for easier citizenship to those who have been subjected to religious persecution in our immediate neighbourhood.”
“As members of Inter-Parliamentary Union, we should respect sovereign processes of fellow legislatures, especially in democracies,” Birla said. “I would urge you to consider the proposed resolution in this light, confident that none of us wants to set an unhealthy precedent,” he said.
But the CAA issue in the European Parliament is not over despite Brexit. It has been postponed. For Pakistan, it is a big issue as it is often implicated worldwide for human rights abuses and terrorism and it sees in the protests against the law in India as an opportunity to project New Delhi as a human rights violator too.
India has asserted that the CAA is an internal matter of India. Also, democratic institutions are absolutely strong in India where this law has been challenged. Opponents of the CAA are allowed to voice their opinion, India has told the world. India says that the legislation passing through the country’s democratic institutions, it would not be appropriate to pass the proposal in European Parliament.
The government in India is exploring how the European Commission and member countries could be made to mould their MPs’ opinion in India’s favour post-Brexit.
India has reminded the EU that European countries themselves have set their own conditions for granting citizenship.