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BJP Loses Assam Ally over Citizenship Bill

  • Published at 11:42 pm January 7th, 2019
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File photo: People wait to check their names on the first draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at Goroimari of Kamrup district in the Indian state of Assam on January 1, 2018 AFP

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced in India’s Lok Sabha in July, 2016 by the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government

Asom Gana Parishad, the major BJP ally in the Northeast Indian state of Assam has decided to pull out of the ruling alliance owing to a rift over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

It was after a meeting with India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singhon Monday; AGP President Atul Bora has announced his party’s withdrawal from the alliance.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced in India’s Lok Sabha in July, 2016 by the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government. The bill aims to provide citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who left Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to escape religious persecution.

Issuing a statement from Delhi, Atul said, “We tried our best to oppose the bill. Today when Assam is burning in protest against the bill, BJP has completely ignored the sentiments of the people of Assam. So we would no longer continue to be in the alliance with BJP.”

“We told the Home Minister in clear terms that this bill violates the Assam Accord and the people of Assam are against it. The Home Minister replied that the bill will be placed in the Lok Sabha tomorrow,” Bora added in the statement.

The Assam Accord was inked between the Government of India and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on 15 August, 1985. AASU is AGP’s student wing. The Accord was the result of a six-year long anti-foreigners agitation in Assam which sought to detect, delete and deport infiltrators coming to Assam from India’s neighbouring countries.

AGP has three ministers in the Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP Government in Assam including Atul Bora himself. Of the overall 126 seats in the Assam Legislative Assembly, BJP has 61 members. But the Sonowal Government would survive with support from the other ally, Bodo People’s Front (BPF) which has 12 seats.

The AGP has 14 members in the Legislative Assembly.