Foreign minister S Jaishankar is expected to visit Brussels in mid-February

NEW DELHI: With the European Parliament due to discuss a resolution sharply critical of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act on Wednesday, India is ramping up diplomacy in Brussels and Strasbourg to counter the move by hundreds of MEPs.

Though European Parliament resolutions don’t affect decisions of the European Council or European Commission, they could impinge on bilateral relations at a time when India and the EU are looking to reset their relationship. PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Brussels in March for the India-EU summit while foreign minister S Jaishankar is expected to visit in mid-February.

The six draft resolutions moved by several groups have coalesced into a single joint motion resolution and a simple majority of those present and voting is required for it to go through. The movers are also looking to criticise Indian policy in J&K.

Evidently conscious of the potential fallout on bilateral ties, EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson said, “The European Parliament is currently planning to hold a debate on legislation adopted by the government of India last December... It is important to recall these texts are only drafts tabled by various political groups in the European Parliament.”

She reiterated that the EU will host its 15th summit with India on March 13 in Brussels with a view to strengthen its strategic partnership. “India is a key partner for EU to address global challenges and to jointly promote rules-based multilateral order... opinions expressed by the European Parliament and its members do not represent the official position of the European Union,” the spokesperson said.

Gaitri Kumar, India’s envoy to Brussels, met the groups who sponsored the drafts in the past couple of days to explain the Indian perspective. Some of the groups are now more convinced of the Indian argument, it was claimed. The resolutions, sources here believe, have been sponsored by Pakistan via some British Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs who belong to groups like S&D and Renew Europe, who put up the motions.

The 73 MEPs from the UK will leave European Parliament on January 31 when Brexit comes into force. So, in a sense, this is a last opportunity for many of these representatives to target India. For Pakistan, the exercise keeps issues in play, particularly as they are portrayed as violation of human rights and Islamophobia.

The Indian defence centres on the argument that the CAA process is internal to India and is being debated hotly in the public sphere and the courts as in any democratic set-up. There are 60 petitions pending in the SC against the amendment. The government’s view has been that the entire process would be allowed to run the course of popular and judicial scrutiny. For the European Parliament to be passing resolutions on something that is undergoing scrutiny in India would be disingenuous.

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

The EU delegation in Delhi told journalists, “The European Parliament is an independent institution, sovereign in the organisation of its work and in its deliberations. The text referred to are draft resolutions by political groups in the EP.”

But within the Indian government, certain quarters said the commission and member states should do their bit with their own MEPs given the extensive briefings their diplomats were accorded by India. “As fellow democracies, the European Parliament should not take actions that call into question the rights and authority of democratically elected legislatures in other regions of the world,” a source said.

In addition, India said European countries have their conditions for naturalisation dependent on certain criteria. India’s context in the circumstance of Partition and its aftermath was not discrimination, the source said. “Every society that fashions a pathway to naturalisation contemplates both a context and criteria. This is not discrimination. In fact, European societies have followed the same approach,” the source added.