All Assam Students' Union to start new party from anti-CAA protests

Singer Zubeen Garg with All Assam Students Union (AASU) chief advisor Samujjal Bhattcharjya and AASU President Dipankar Kumar Nath and other artists from different part of Assam play traditional instruments during the 'Ran Singa' protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), in Guwahati, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The anti-CAA protests in Assam are likely to change the state's political landscape with those leading the agitation are now planning to launch a new party ahead of next year's Assembly elections.

Leaders of the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU), leading the anti-CAA movement said they would go for a new political party to offer an alternative to the voters as the BJP-led government was adamant against exempting Assam from the purview of the amended law.

"Congress only played politics over the foreigner issue by giving protection to the illegal migrants when they were in power. Asom Gana Parishad did nothing to solve the problem even as it came into being with the very purpose and now they are with the BJP. Similarly, BJP has betrayed the Assamese people bypassing the CAA despite strong opposition. So the indigenous people now want a new party as an alternative for the next Assembly elections. We will have consultations with many prominent citizens and organisations before finalising the plan," AASU president, Dipankar Kumar Nath told reporters here on Thursday.

Singer Zubeen Garg, one of the leaders of the anti-CAA agitation said he would press for the new party but would remain out of it. Garg had united thousands including cultural personalities against CAA. "They (BJP) took my help to win elections and now when they are acting against interests of the indigenous people, I will work hard to beat them in the next elections," Garg told a gathering recently.

Those opposing the CAA fears that indigenous Assamese residents will become a minority in Assam as it would give citizenship to a large number of post-1971 migrants. The CAA seeks to allow persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years.

BJP formed its first government in Assam in 2016 with AGP and Bodoland People's Front as two regional allies. 

Senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is strongly countering the anti-CAA protest said the ruling party would give a fitting reply to the new party in the battle of ballots. "We are confident of winning the elections again as people had voted us in 2019 elections despite the protests against the Citizenship bill. This time BJP will win more seats," Sarma said recently.

Former chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi on Thursday welcomed the plan of a new party saying that all needed to fight together to defeat BJP in the next elections.

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