European lawmakers put off vote on CAA to March

Indian friends prevail over Pak sympathisers

European lawmakers put off vote on CAA to March

A picture taken on January 29, 2020 shows the European Parliament room during a plenary session in Brussels. AFP

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29

In a shot in the arm for India, its diplomats today persuaded the European Parliament to postpone a vote on a joint resolution by several members seeking to criticise the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to a later date in March.

As many as 271 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) were in favour of postponing a vote on the resolution slated for Thursday, while 199 were against it.

Government sources said: “Friends of India had prevailed over the friends of Pakistan in European Parliament today.” They said strenuous efforts were made by outgoing British MEP of Pakistani-origin Shaffaq Mohammad to have a resolution passed by the European Parliament against India.

“The CAA is a matter internal to India and has been adopted through a due process through democratic means. We expect that our perspectives in this matter will be understood by all objective and fair-minded MEPs,” they said. The European Parliament had decided to take up a joint motion against the CAA a day after a briefing was held on Capitol Hill in Washington on the same issue.

The MEPs had put the joint motion - an amalgamation of five different resolutions filed against CAA - at the tail-end of the day's agenda. It states that while the CAA's goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, an effective national asylum and refugee policy should be just and holistic in nature, and should apply to all those in need. In the absence of this vital rider, the CAA is “discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive”.

Indian diplomats were first successful in prevailing upon a group of extreme right wing MEPs, some of whom were taken for a tour to the Kashmir valley, to withdraw their resolution. This brought down the number of MEPs backing anti-CAA resolutions from 626 to 560.

However, they had limited but definite success with the much wider ideological swathe of MEPs who merged their five resolutions introduced on party lines into one. They did not withdraw the resolution - in fact almost 200 of the 751 MEPs wanted a vote. But the appeal by the Lok Sabha Speaker, the prospects of closer EU-India ties in the wake of PM Narendra Modi's March visit and the outreach by diplomats and the Indian diaspora combined to persuade 271 MEPs to seek a postponement.

A day earlier in Washington, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asked White House to consider the “use of targeted sanctions against Indian officials primarily responsible for religious freedom violations”.

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