BJP's allies join hands against Citizenship Bill

Last Updated 28 January 2019, 13:57 IST

Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) and at least six other BJP allies in the Northeast have decided to join hands to fight against the NDA’s Citizenship (Amendment) bill 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

JD(U) national secretary general K C Tyagi said that the party's six MPs in the Rajya Sabha will oppose the bill while stating that Congress, too, should have fought together to defeat the NDA’s attempt to pass the bill.

“We have decided to fight the bill on the streets and inside the Parliament. This bill is unconstitutional and is only aimed at political gains. This is against the interests of Assam and the Northeast and so we have decided to extend our help to the parties and organisations in the region,” he said.

Assam and rest of the Northeast roared in protest as the bill seeks to allow persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years.

Most in the region are protesting against the bill saying that the Northeast would bear the maximum brunt if more ‘illegal migrants’ are given citizenship and the fear that the indigenous people would loose their ethnic identity.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, but remains pending in the Rajya Sabha.

At least six allies of BJP in the Northeast including the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which quit the BJP-led Assam government on January 7, have convened a meeting of all regional parties in the region in Guwahati on Tuesday to formally join hands and fight against the bill.

Meghalaya Chief Minister and NPP chief Conrad K Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister and MNF chief Zoramthanga are likely to attend the meeting.

Zoramthanga had recently said that the MNF would not hesitate to quit the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a forum of regional parties floated by the BJP if the bill is passed.

“We are also meeting leaders of at least 100 local organisations including the All Assam Students’ Union, who are agitating against the bill. We have also extended support to the meeting of all regional parties on Tuesday,” Tyagi said.

Tyagi and three other JD(U) leaders— Prashant Kishore, N S N Lotha and Afaque Ahmed Khan— visited Guwahati on Monday.

IPFT of Tripura, NPP and UDP in Meghalaya, PDF in Manipur and NDPP in Nagaland are either part of the BJP-led government or have taken the BJP’s support to form their government.

Leaders of the NPF of Nagaland, although not the BJP's ally, is also likely to attend the meeting.

The development has come as a surprise to the BJP, which has either come to power or has become part of the governments led by regional allies in the seven states of the Northeast since 2014.

(Published 28 January 2019, 13:33 IST)

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