Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Citizenship Amendment Bill: Resign and face fresh election, AGP tells Sonowal

Citizenship Amendment Bill: Resign and face fresh election, AGP tells Sonowal

"Today, we burnt copies of the bill and hoisted black flags in different towns and sub-divisions of Assam as a mark of protest".

"This is the biggest betrayal especially against the people of the North East by the conspirators in Delhi and all other associates who due to their greed of power chose to keep quiet and not fight to protect the interest of the people", he said in a video-taped statement. The Assam people voted for the BJP-AGP alliance, not the BJP alone.

The Union Cabinet on Monday cleared the redrafted Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

A new registry of citizens compiled in Assam this year forced the state's 33 million people to submit documents proving they were there before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh's independence war.

The BJP has been talking about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and identifying illegal Bangladeshi immigrants through the NRC process in the same breath. Later, opposing the bill, members of Congress and TMC staged a walkout.

Immediately after Home Minister Rajnath Singh introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said there are "flaws" in the bill that does not address the Assam Accord and requested the Speaker to send it to a select committee. "If Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues and the state BJP leadership had taken a strong stand and respected people's sentiments on the bill, then the Centre would not have dared to go ahead with such arrogance", Bora said.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), based in the border state of Assam in India's northeast, has become the fourth ally to quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the past year, for a variety of reasons.

AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision after a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The letter to Shah, which was also signed by Mahanta, said, "It is reliably learnt that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in spite of our protest, including the protests resorted to by various organisations of indigenous people of Assam before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, is to be placed before Parliament".

Minus the 14 AGP legislators, the Sonowal government would be left with 73 MLAs, nine more than the majority mark of 64 in the 126-member Assembly.

"We don't support the bandh so we haven't called for such bandhs for the last 10 years".

Though the AGP leadership is tight-lipped on their next step, they said that opposing the Bill and preventing it from becoming an Act was the ultimate goal at the moment.

Protest organizer Samujjal Bhattacharya, a leader of the All Assam Students Union, said the legislation would confer citizenship on the basis of religion, violating India's secular constitution.

The Minister added that Assam is dealing with illegal migration for a long time now and the state's burden is India's burden. It would grant rights to Hindus, Jains, Parsi and several other non-Muslim religious groups who migrated illegally from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asked if the National People's Party will put out of the BJP-led NDA government, the NPP Chief said: "We have been very clear to the NDA that this is something we will not support".

Besides Opposition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party's allies Shiv Sena and JD (U) would also oppose the Bill in Parliament.

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