AGP drops support to BJP in Assam over Citizenship Bill

Northeast 'shut down' tomorrow

Photo via Twitter.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a regional ally of BJP-led coalition government in Assam on Monday walked out of the alliance in its protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. 

The government, however, faces no threat as BJP and its other ally Bodo Peoples Front (BPF) has 74 seats in the 126-member Assembly. AGP has 12 MLAs.

AGP president and cabinet minister Atul Bora, who met union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, announced the decision on a day the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the bill tabled its report in the Parliament without giving importance to the protests by the opposition MPs. AGP was given three portfolios in the ministry. 

A group of 14 protesters led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, a local organisation staged a nude protest in front of the Parliament on Monday alleging that BJP betrayed Assamese people by taking a U-turn on its pre-poll promise to protect jati (community), mati (land) and bheti (home) of the indigenous people.


Photo: Members of All Assam Students' Union stage a protest against Citizenship
(Amendment) Bill 2016, in Guwahati on Monday. Photo by Manash Das, Guwahati. 

The bill seeks to offer citizenship to non-muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who had migrated to India due to 'religious persecution,' after a stay of six years. The same is 12 years at present.

Many organisations in the Northeast are opposed to the bill saying this would make the 'large Hindu illegal migrants' already living in the region Indian citizens. They fear the move will reduce them into minority and nullify Assam Accord of 1985. The accord promised to detect, delete and deport illegal migrants by updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with March 24, 1971, as the cut off date.

The former chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said they tried long to convince the Centre to withdraw the bill before calling it a quit. BJP leaders said the government would face no problem while Opposition Congress joined the chorus against the bill. AGP had contested the recent panchayat elections alone as its protest to the bill. 

Organisations in the Northeast has called a 12-hour bandh on Tuesday as part of their protest. Assam erupted in protest after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in Silchar in South Assam on Friday that his government was gearing up to pass the bill. Modi said BJP is committed to protecting those who suffered due to the Partition, a statement described by many as BJP's attempt to offer citizenships to Hindu 'illegal migrants.' 

They demand that the foreigner issue should be solved through an update of the NRC, irrespective of religion. The accord was signed after the six-year-long Assam Agitation or anti-foreigners movement. 

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AGP drops support to BJP in Assam over Citizenship Bill

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