AGP’s Prafulla Mahanta tells party leaders to join BJP if they support CAA
Cracks in the Asom Gana Parishad, coalition partner of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, widened on Tuesday over the party’s stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) with a section demanding the removal of several top leaders.
Former chief minister and founder president of AGP, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who is opposed to CAA, has urged party workers to fight against the legislation as it violates the Assam Accord signed in 1985 after a six-year agitation against illegal immigrants.
Mahanta and others are miffed with party president Atul Bora (who is a minister in the state government) and two other ministers in the state cabinet Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhushan Chowdhury for supporting CAA and taking part in BJP-organised events in to drum up support for the controversial legislation.
“These leaders should have supported the party’s stand and opposed CAA, but instead they are taking part in rallies supporting the legislation,” Mahanta said in a meeting held here for the interaction of ideas with grass rootworkers from Guwahati Nagaon and Tezpur.
“Those who support CAA should join BJP,” he added urging party workers to come together and oppose the legislation.
On Tuesday, the party leadership stopped Mahanta and others from holding a meeting at the AGP headquarters here by locking the gates to the building, forcing the former to shift to another venue nearby.
“Mahanta’s views are not that of the party. If he has any issues he should raise it in the party platform. The programmes we took part in were not BJP events, but those organised by the government,” AGP leader and minister Phani Bhushan Chowdhury told journalists.
In January 2019, AGP had parted ways with the BJP in Assam and the party’s ministers had resigned from the state cabinet in protest after the Lok Sabha had passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
They returned to the coalition in March after the bill lapsed when the government failed to table it in the Rajya Sabha.
Assam has been witnessing mass protests for the past month by various student bodies, political parties and indigenous groups opposed to CAA. Six people have died in violence related to the protests. Five of them died in police firing.
Protests against the CAA continued in Assam on Tuesday. The BJP organised a peace rally at Biswanath in support of the legislation while indigenous groups and student bodies held protest demonstrations against the legislation.
The lone AGP MP in the the Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of the legislation which sparked off resentment in the party. Later in December, the AGP filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the amended citizenship act.