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President backs Modi govt’s CAB

President backs Modi govt’s CAB
Ram Nath Kovind (File)
NEW DELHI, JAN 31 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/31/2019 11:31:35 AM IST

President of India has backed the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), which has met with stiff opposition from political parties and people in the North Eastern states. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will make it easier to provide Indian citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else,” he said.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents.

Ahead of the Budget Session, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday addressed the Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament. The president also praised the introduction of reservations for the poor among upper castes. The government has taken many measures for women’s welfare, like introducing a bill to make triple talaq illegal and extending the period of maternity leave, he added.

This is the last session of Parliament before the Lok Sabha polls later this year. The Centre wants to pass the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance during this session, whose first tranche ends on February 13.

The Centre will present an interim budget, or vote-on-account, on Friday. On Wednesday, the Union Ministry of Finance had refuted reports that it planned to present a full budget despite it being an election year.

He claimed that the Centre has improved the facilities for disabled people and got rid of all unmanned railway crossings in the country. The government has added 13 crore cooking gas connections in four-and-a-half years, he added. It has also worked to provide internet connections at the rural level, and helped farmers increase foodgrain output, he said.

Kovind also claimed that Rs 88,000 crore had been deposited in bank accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme. He cited an international survey and said that 55% of all new bank accounts opened around the world between 2014 and 2017 were in India.

“I am happy that our country is building inclusive societies based on morality, consistent with Mahatma Gandhi’s dreams,” Kovind added.

Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned after Kovind’s speech. After the Lok Sabha was adjourned, the president’s speech was placed in the Rajya Sabha. The Upper House was adjourned after mourning the deaths of its former MPs, George Fernandes and Sitaram Singh.

Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu held all-party meetings. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar called the all-party meeting in an effort to ensure that the session goes on uninterrupted. (More on p-7)

Centre-NE CMs to meet today

The Centre has invited the chief ministers of the North East for talks on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Friday, after 10 political parties from the region, most of them allies of the ruling BJP, met at Guwahati on Wednesday and unanimously opposed the “anti-Northeast” bill.

Sources said that the in the Meghalaya chief minister’s office told The Telegraph that the Home ministry called the resident commissioner, Meghalaya House, in New Delhi on Wednesday and invited chief minister Conrad Sangma for talks on the bill, which has seen widespread protests in the region since December. “Similar calls were made to other chief ministers of the region on Wednesday. The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday,” the source said.

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