Citizenship Act, NRC: Allies turn against the BJP

Citizenship Act, NRC: Allies turn against the BJP

Both AGP and JD(U) are being forced by a section of its leaders, as well as the widespread protests against the CAA, to change its stand.

Dissent is brewing in the ruling NDA, with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Sunday deciding to approach the Supreme Court against the amended Citizenship Act, while another ally JD(U) making it clear that it will not support a nation-wide exercise National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Both AGP and JD(U) are being forced by a section of its leaders, as well as the widespread protests against the CAA, to change its stand. A top JD(U) leader Prashant Kishore, who led the protest within the party against the support for CAA, equated NRC with demonetisation, carried out by the previous Narendra Modi government.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, which seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and NRC are among the key agendas of the BJP.

While the AGP has opposed the amendments earlier and even quit the BJP-led Assam government, it had changed its stand and voted in support of the Bill when it was brought before Parliament this month, saying the government had addressed the concerns of the north-eastern state. However, dissent brewed in AGP, with former chief Prafulla Kumar Mahanta opposing party chief Atul Bora's stand.

In Rajya Sabha, its member Birendra Prasad Baishya opposed the Bill during the debate but voted in favour of it. However, Bora's stand led to a number of resignations.

While Bora had said the AGP being a regional party cannot do anything if the BJP brings the Bill, Mahanta had said that it was party chief's "personal" views. "Being a regional party, we cannot go against the interests of indigenous people. Views expressed by Bora had nothing to with the party's stance on the Act," Mahanta had said.

In the JD(U), National Vice President Prashant Kishor led the revolt against the party reversing its stand to support CAA. His and other leaders' protests had impact on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the party chief, prompting them to take a stand against the NRC. The party feels that if the NRC is combined with CAA, it would be dangerous.

“The idea of nation wide NRC is equivalent to demonetisation of citizenship... invalid till you prove it otherwise. The biggest sufferers would be the poor and the marginalised... we know from the experience,” Kishor tweeted on Sunday, after meeting Kumar on Saturday.

Several leaders were upset with Kumar for giving the signal for support but after a meeting he had with Kishor, a political strategist, he gave him the nod to announce that the party is against NRC.

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