European Parliament postpones voting on resolution condemning CAA till March
The resolution which will be debated in Brussels regrets the ‘discriminatory’ CAA and calls upon GOI to repeal it. It also condemns the violence unleashed at protestors
Buckling under political pressure and intense lobbying by the Indian government, the European Parliament on Wednesday voted to postpone adoption of the anti-CAA Resolution until late March.
The postponement of voting on the Resolution – which had already been tabled – was by a vote of 271 to 199 by MEPs and effectively scuttles the move till after the EU-India summit.
The Modi government had made extraordinary efforts to block the anti-CAA Resolution in the European Parliament, or at least get it postponed till after the EU-India summit, by which time the issue would have lost its urgency.
Reports from Brussels late on Wednesday indicate that despite the fact that many MEPs and Groups tried to stoutly resist the intense diplomatic and political pressures and were keen to go ahead with a re-drafted joint resolution that was scheduled to be voted and adopted on Thursday, eventually they were persuaded to agree to a postponement.
However, the scheduled debate on the Motion would take place, with 15 MEPs listed to speak – of whom four belong to the far-Right “Identity and Democracy Group”, which ironically has less than ten percent of the total membership of the European parliament.
While undertaking a damage control operation of unprecedented proportions, New Delhi had left no stone unturned in an effort to torpedo the resolution - acutely aware that the raging controversy during the last few days has already shattered the democratic credentials of the Modi government and alerted the world about its true colours.
At the diplomatic level, Foreign Minister Jaishankar spearheaded the campaign by activating Indian envoys in Europe, lobbying with heads of missions in New Delhi and personal contact with European leaders, including the Luxembourg foreign minister who was on a visit to India.
At the parliamentary level, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla sent a letter to the president of the European Parliament David Sassoli “urging” him to reconsider the resolutions critical of India, reminding him that “as members of the Inter Parliamentary Union, we should respect the sovereign processes of fellow legislatures, especially in democracies”, and even asserting that it would be “inappropriate for one legislature to pass judgment on another”.
In addition, at the political level, senior Cabinet ministers and BJP party spokespersons issued statements hitting out at what they saw as “interference” by the European Parliament in India’s “internal maters”.
Simultaneously, informal press briefings were held to generate media coverage of the government’s version of the citizenship amendment law and it’s stand on the widespread anti-CAA protests taking place in the country.
The multi-pronged campaign has succeeded in scuttling the move to condemn the CAA which most of the MEPs consider to be in violation of India’s global obligations and against basic principles of human rights.
The re-drafted text of the Joint Resolution is drawn from the earlier six separate drafts, and far from being a watered-down version, is still strongly-worded.
The Resolution “deeply regrets” the adoption and implementation of the CAA, which is “discriminatory” in nature and “dangerously divisive”. It calls on the Government of India to “immediately respond” to citizens’ petitions as required by the Supreme Court and to “repeal the discriminatory amendments”, which “violate India’s international obligations”. Significantly, it also “warns against the increasing Nationalism” which has resulted, in the “fuelling of religious intolerance and discrimination against Muslims”.
The Resolution also “condemns the violence and brutality” that broke out in different regions of India following the adoption of the CAA and reminds law enforcement services of the responsibility to show restraint and allow peaceful protest and to “immediately and unconditionally release the protesters and human rights defenders currently held under arrest”.
It also “condemns” the shutting down of internet access to global networks, preventing communication and the free flow of information and underscores that such actions are a clear violation of the freedom of speech.