Congress to oppose Citizenship bill in RS

The NECCC, a panel headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a meeting here adopted a resolution to oppose the bill and prevent its passage in the Rajya Sabha

Congress on Wednesday resolved to harp on the public protest against NDA’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to counter BJP in the Northeast, which saw a surge since 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The North East Co-ordination Congress Committee (NECCC), a panel headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a meeting here adopted a resolution to oppose the bill and prevent its passage in the Rajya Sabha. Singh, a former Rajya Sabha member from Assam, however, did not attend the meeting.

The bill that seeks to allow the ‘persecuted’ non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship after a stay of six years, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 amid strong protest in the Northeast. The bill, however, is pending in the Rajya Sabha.

“BJP had promised to protect identity, land and culture of the indigenous people and so people had voted for them. But they have misled the nation and the Northeast and now indulged in politics of polarization. The Northeast is simmering in protest as BJP is trying to polarise people by offering citizenship to the non-Muslims. So the NECCC will seek help of all members of the Rajya Sabha to ensure that the bill is not passed in the Upper House,” said Mukul Sangma, chairman of the committee and former Meghalaya chief minister.

Indigenous people in the Northeast are up against the bill fearing that citizenship to large number of ‘illegal migrants’ would threaten their ethnic identity and reduce them into linguistic minority. The bill has turned into a major political issue in the Northeast ahead of Lok Sabha elections with BJP’s ally in Assam, Asom Gana Parishad already quitting the alliance. BJP government in Manipur has requested the Centre to exempt the state from its purview while its allies in Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and in Tripura has also opposed it.

Congress insiders said the NECCC, which was re-constituted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi a few months ago, is gearing up to counter North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) of BJP and its regional allies in the region. The NEDA was floated after BJP formed the alliance government in Assam in May 2016. BJP later won elections in Manipur and Tripura while it became part of the governments in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

The NEDA is eyeing 21 of the 24 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast but many here believe that the target could be tougher as the Citizenship bill has now hurt the strong regional sentiments.

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Congress to oppose Citizenship bill in RS

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