Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

BJP allies among NE parties opposing Citizenship Bill

BJP allies among NE parties opposing Citizenship Bill

The severance of alliance with the BJP, however, would not make the government fall in Assam. Police and security forces deployed in Dibrugarh had to fire gunshots in the air and also tear gas to disperse a mob that went unruly in the town, which is home to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

This issue has spiraled out of hand in Northeast India with the ruling BJP losing its ally in Assam and continuous protests across the region. "We have also urged the Bodoland People's Front to come out of the alliance for the greater cause of the state", AGP general secretary Ramendra Narayan Kalita said.

The AGP and the BJP had forged an alliance in the state just before the 2016 Assembly elections with the sole objective of keeping the Congress out of power by preventing division of anti-Congress votes.

Protesters there are angry not because the bill excludes Muslims, but because it would grant citizenship to undocumented Hindus who failed to prove their citizenship and hence were excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published last July.

The leading civil society group - Asom Nagrik Samaj, a platform of prominent intellectuals, writers and journalists, on Monday observed "Dhikkar Divas" (Condemnation Day) against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, in Dighalipukhuri, Assam.

"It is very unfortunate that this bill has been passed; this is something which we have been opposing vehemently and as a cabinet also had passed a resolution that we will oppose any kind of implementation of this bill", Conrad told media persons today in Shillong.

The proposed legislation, an election promise made by the BJP in 2014, was cleared by the Narendra Modi-led Cabinet on Monday.

Suhas Chakma, director of the New Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said the citizenship bill was "absolutely unconstitutional as it targets specific groups".

Large sections of people in Assam and other northeastern states have been protesting against the bill, saying it would nullify the 1985 Assam Accord under which any foreign national, irrespective of religion, who had entered the state after 1971 should be deported.

"As the chief minister, it was his primary duty to ensure that people were not burdened with the bill".

It referred to the understanding arrived at prior to the Assam Assembly election, 2016, and said the AGP had chose to go for the alliance during a discussion with the BJP in New Delhi on "the basis of clear understanding of the Assam Accord, other major issues of Assam, including the seat adjustments".

Some political observers believe that the committee was a ploy to placate Assamese groups, who have not taken well to the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The northeast region sends 25 MPs to the Lok Sabha, with 14 of them coming from Assam.

Meanwhile, member organisations of the NESO in other states such as Mizo Zirlai Pawal (MZP), All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU), Khasi Students Union (KSU), Garo Students Union (GSU), Naga Students' Federation (NSF), All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) and Twipra Students Federation (TSF) are also supporting the bandh.

All educational institutions in Guwahati as well as other parts of the State chose to remain closed.

"There is no confusion about our stand".

The BJP has 12 legislators in the Neiphiu Rio-headed government in alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party. These states feel that the Bill needs to be opposed in "a bid to save their indigenous communities from extinction".

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