CAA DEBATE IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: INDIA UNDER PRESSURE
News behind the News|NbN 03 February 2020
Much to the relief of India, the European Parliament Wednesday decided to put off a vote on a resolution critical of India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) to a session beginning on March 2. The move is being seen as linked to the upcoming India-EU Summit next month.

The European People’s Party (EPP) Group, the largest group in the Parliament that is backing the resolution, said the debate should go ahead as scheduled but voting should be postponed to the session beginning on March 2. This proposal was accepted by a vote of 271 to 199. An EPP representative said it wanted the postponement because India’s Supreme Court has asked the government to clarify issues and MEPs (Members of European Parliament) should wait so that they could fairly evaluate the law. The postponement will also give MEPs time to interact with Indian ministers visiting Brussels in February, the EPP said.

The Parliament, however, decided to go ahead with a debate which saw a couple of members insisting that India should be held to account for bringing in such a discriminatory law. India was not without friends either, with some MEPs insisting that there was no clear understanding of the CAA in the European Parliament. In the debate, a couple of the MEPs accused the European Union of capitulating to the India lobby and prioritising yet another trade summit over the European Parliament’s commitment to human rights. This was said in reference to the upcoming India-EU Summit in Brussels on March 13 that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Now that the vote has been deferred, India is hoping to be able to work further with the MEPs over the next month-and-a-half to bring over the critics and soften the blow if any. External affairs minister S Jaishankar is expected to visit Brussels next month to prepare the ground for the EU-India Summit, which is expected to be held on March 13. People familiar with developments said the voting is now expected to be held after the summit. A potentially adverse outcome in the voting could have cast a shadow on the summit.

Over the past few days, India had mounted a sustained diplomatic outreach to explain its position on the CAA to MEPs. India has insisted that the law is an internal matter but had also said it was willing to engage with the MEPs on the issue. The postponement of voting on the resolution is being described as a diplomatic victory for India. The Friends of India group had apparently prevailed over the Friends of Pakistan group in the European Parliament.

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