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EU’s CAA debate may cloud PM’s visit to Belgium

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: AP)

The European Parliament is the legislative wing of the EU while the European Commission is the EU’s executive wing.

New Delhi: The debate in the European Parliament on India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), scheduled for January 29 followed by a vote the next day, may trigger uncertainty over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to the Belgian capital Brussels for the India-European Union (EU) Summit later this year, sources hinted on Monday even as they sought to highlight that individually, European nations like France strongly back the Indian government’s stand that the CAA is an internal matter of India.

According to reports, a total of six resolutions have been tabled by six groups comprising 559 members in the 751-member European Parliament. Most of the resolutions are critical of the CAA, while some also criticise the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the security lockdown and detentions in Jammu and Kashmir. The most critical reportedly is the resolution moved by the S&D Group, the second largest group with 154 MEPs, which states the CAA has the potential to “create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.

The resolution by the EPP Group, the largest with 182 MEPs, says the law could have negative consequences for “India’s international image and internal stability”.

French diplomatic sources in Delhi said France — a founding member of the EU — is of the view that the CAA is “India’s internal matter” and that the “European Parliament is an institution independent of member states and the European Commission”, indicating that there may be a rift within the European Bloc on the matter.

The European Parliament is the legislative wing of the EU while the European Commission is the EU’s executive wing.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad indicated on Monday that the ministry of external affairs (MEA) will explain to the members of European Parliament about the CAA but took a jibe at it, asking why its members hadn’t raised the issue of victimisation of Hindus in Pakistan.

Though no dates have been announced, it had been speculated that PM Modi may visit Brussels in March this year, but the anti-CAA resolution in the European Parliament may put a spanner in the works.

With reports that the European Parliament is set to debate and vote on the resolutions, some of which state that the CAA marks a “dangerous shift” in the India’s citizenship regime and has “created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship”, Indian government sources had said on Sunday that “the EU Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world”.

Hoping that “sponsors and supporters of the draft will engage with us to get a full and accurate assessment of the facts before they proceed further”, Indian government sources had further said that “every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation, contemplates both a context and criteria (and that) this is not discrimination”, further claiming that “European societies have followed the same approach”.

Government sources had further said that the CAA is a “matter is entirely internal to India” and that “this legislation has been adopted by due process and through democratic means after a public debate in both Houses of Parliament.”

According to news agency reports, the resolution tabled by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group in the Parliament last week, which falls under the category of “Resolutions on topical subjects”, states, “The CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering… Instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters.” 

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