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BJP ally threatens to pull out of Assam govt over Citizenship Bill

Even if the AGP goes ahead with its threat, it won’t affect the Sarbananda Sonowal govt. BJP has 61 members in the 126-member assembly and the support of the Bodoland People’s Front, which has 12 MLAs.

india Updated: Dec 24, 2017 21:42 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Citizenship Bill,BJP govt in Assam,Asom Gana Parishad
The present Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and grant citizenship to illegal Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Jain, Buddhist and Christian immigrants.(PTI File Photo)

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has threatened to pull out of the BJP-led coalition in Assam if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed.

The regional outfit, which is opposed to granting of Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has warned if the Bill is passed, it will break ties with the saffron party.

There are fears in Assam that if the Bill, to be tabled in the ongoing winter session of parliament, is passed, it will lead to a huge influx of Hindu Bangladeshis.

However, even if the AGP goes ahead with its threat, it won’t affect the Sarbananda Sonowal government. BJP has 61 members in the 126-member assembly and the support of the Bodoland People’s Front, which has 12 MLAs. On Friday, two separate delegations from Assam— one BJP and another AGP— met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi. While the BJP team wanted fast-tracking of the bill, AGP wants it withdrawn.

“A wrong impression is being created about the bill. Assam alone won’t bear the burden of religious minorities from neighbouring states,” said Roopam Goswami, BJP spokesperson.

Several other groups and organisations in Assam are also against the bill. “There is no question of granting citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis. If it is done, it will go against provisions of the Assam Accord,” Samujjal Bhattacharya, chief adviser of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), said in a rally on Saturday.

AASU, the biggest student body in the state, had spearheaded the anti-foreigner agitation which culminated in the Assam Accord of 1985. The movement had claimed 855 lives. The present Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and grant citizenship to illegal Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Jain, Buddhist and Christian immigrants.

The earlier Act required illegal immigrants to stay in India for 11 years to be eligible for citizenship. The Bill, if passed, would reduce it to six years.

First Published: Dec 24, 2017 21:42 IST