AGP hunger strike against citizenship bill

AGP hunger strike against citizenship bill

AGP leaders with Joint Parliament Committee on Citizenship Bill in New Delhi recently. DH photo

After walking out of the alliance government with BJP in Assam, MLAs of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have decided to sit on a hunger strike here to step up protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The regional party on Monday said all of its 12 MLAs will sit on a 10-hour strike here on January 24 and would join the ongoing protests by other organisations against the bill.

AGP had snapped its ties and three of its ministers resigned on January 7, a day before the bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha.

The bill seeks to offer citizenship to 'persecuted' Hindus, Christians, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Sikhs, who had migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, after a stay of six years. The same was 11 years before.

The bill violates the Assam Accord of 1985, which promised to detect, delete and deport illegal migrants with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date, to solve Assam's long foreigner problem.

This has triggered protests across the Northeast with indigenous people fearing that citizenship to 'large illegal migrants' could reduce them into minorities and threaten their ethnic identity. Like AGP, other allies of BJP--NPP in Meghalaya, NDPP in Nagaland, MNF in Mizoram, IPFT in Tripura and even BJP government in Manipur has opposed the bill.

Congress offer to Assam CM: 

The leader of the Congress legislator party in Assam, Debabrat Saikia said the party would support a new government with Sarbananda Sonowal as chief minister if the latter leaves BJP along with some MLAs, who are opposed to the bill. "If Sonowal leaves BJP with at least 40 MLAs, we will support him to form a new government. We have 25 MLAs at present," he told local television channels on Saturday. 

BJP has 61 MLAs in the 126 Assam Assembly but the state government faces no immediate threat as Bodoland People's Front (BPF), another regional ally is still with it with 13 MLAs.

"Only condition is that the new government should not do anything against regional sentiments and Assam Accord," Saikia said. Congress, however, is against support of All India United Democratic Front led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, having 14 MLAs.