Two years into alliance, BJP-AGP ties in Assam shows signs of strain
There has been a disagreement between the two parties over the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries.india Updated: Apr 19, 2018 20:41 IST
As Assam celebrated Rongali Bihu last Sunday, a clash erupted between the two ruling partners of the state — Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Scores of workers of the two outfits fought over allotment of sheds of a market in Chaygaon, nearly 50 km from Guwahati, marking a tense phase in the alliance although leaders dismissed it as a local issue.
Nine people were injured from both the parties which came together in 2016 ahead of the assembly elections.
“We came together before the assembly election with the sole intention of ending 15 years of Congress misrule. But we won’t compromise on our ideals and goals, which are for the greater interest of Assam and Assamese people,” said AGP president Atul Bora.
There has been a disagreement between the two parties over the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries. AGP is against the change as it fears it will lead to surge in influx of Bangladeshi Hindus in the state.
“Granting citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus would dilute the Assam Accord of 1985, which was signed with the specific aim of detecting and deporting illegal immigrants. We will oppose the move to amend the Citizenship Act tooth and nail,” said Bora.
However, BJP leaders say the party’s vision document before the 2016 assembly polls had clearly stated its stand on providing citizenship to religious minorities, not just from Bangladesh, but from other neighbouring states too.
“This has been our party’s stand since the beginning,” asserted BJP chief spokesperson Rupam Goswami. “The AGP might claim ignorance about it but we were clear on it even before we came together for the assembly polls.”
Looking ahead, panchayat elections are proposed to be held, but there’s confusion over whether the two will contest together or separately.
Last month, BJP president Amit Shah had publicly said that both the parties would contest the elections together. But AGP said they are yet to get official intimation in this regard and are gearing for the polls alone.
“The aim of our government is to bring together all communities of Assam together for the development of the state,” said Goswami.
He, however, conceded that “they (AGP) might have some political compulsions of their own”.
Despite talks of panchayat polls happening soon, sources say it is unlikely to happen as thousands of state government employees are busy updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is aimed at weeding out illegal immigrants residing in the state.