Dissent grows in Assam’s ruling BJP-AGP govt, many leaders quit
A number of functionaries of the ruling alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have resigned from their posts in the aftermath of the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) act, with some saying that the state government had failed to gauge the mood of the people against the new law that allows citizenship to migrants from minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Senior BJP leader Jagadish Bhuyan, who was also the chairman of state-run Assam Petrochemicals Limited, resigned from the party and his post on Friday. “When I saw the revised CAA was against Assamese people, I decided to quit. From now I will take part in anti-citizen law protests,” said Bhuyan.
This came a day after popular Assamese actor Jatin Bora, who is also the chairman of Assam State Film Finance and Development Corporation, and Ravi Sharma, resigned from the BJP and joined the protests. “I am what I am only because of the people of Assam. I decided to quit my post and party and be with my people,” Bora said. Sharma also expressed a similar sentiment.
While former assembly speaker, Pulakesh Baruah, announced his resignation from the BJP on Friday, the party’s MLA from Jamugurihat, Padma Hazarika, said on Friday that he will quit from his post if voters of his constituency, who are opposed to the CAA, ask him to do so.
Hitendra Nath Goswami, speaker the legislative assembly had said on Thursday, “The government should reconsider implementing the law in Brahmaputra Valley. The situation can deteriorate further and lumpen elements try to take advantage. The CAB will cause hatred between different communities of the state.”
There is a feeling among some BJP leaders that the party failed to gauge the sentiment of the people, especially in the Assamese-dominated Brahamaputra Valley, where most of the protests have happened.
“Only the autonomous districts of Assam are out of the CAA ambit. These are tribal dominated districts, where there is very little immigration from Bangladesh. The areas that have high immigration are covered under the CAB, which is a reason for the protests,” said a senior Assam BJP leader, who was not willing to be named.
Leaders from the AGP admitted that there has been a spree of resignations, primarily from district levels bodies, over the CAA. “The party which was built on agitation against illegal immigrants cannot be seen party to the CAA. That is the reason our several local leaders believe have resigned,” said an AGP leader, not willing to be named.
The BJP dismissed these concerns.
“Some outsiders are indulging in violence in the garb of anti-CAB protests. Members of AASU [All Assam Students Union] and other indigenous groups can’t be responsible for such acts. The Congress is responsible for inciting violence in upper Assam,” said BJP Assam unit chief Ranjit Kumar Dass.
“The BJP has shown it is anti-Assam. The AGP is also equally responsible and the people of Assam will never forgive them. We are with the people in their protests,” said Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi.