The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which aims to provide citizenship to non-muslim minorities from neighbouring countries, is facing increasing opposition from partners of the National Democratic Alliance. After AGP quite the alliance government in Assam and Meghalaya CM spoke against it, now National Democratic People Party’s leader and CM Neiphiu Rio of Nagaland has also opposed the bill. Addressing a press conference, the CM said that the state government opposes and rejects the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill is facing protests from the state’s tribal population. NDPP is also part of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance or NEDA.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Chief Secretary Temjen Toy in a press conference cited the will and desire of all sections of the people and stated that the state’s cabinet opposes the Amendment Bill in its entirety. CM Rio’s party, also joined around 10 parties in Guhawati on Tuesday to jointly oppose the bill and discuss future prospects.
The bandwagon against the bill is led by NDA’s former ally Assam Gana Parishad, which snapped its tie with the alliance after the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in the winter session. The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on 8th January, and many organisations allege that it is a threat to the local demographics of north-eastern states. It is said that the influx of Bangladeshi Hindus in the region will snatch the Assamese people’s rights and also lead to dilution of their culture. Parties and pressure groups have also said that the bill is against the fundamentals of the Assam Accord.
However, Bhartiya Janta Party has made its stand clear that it will not let rights of Assamese people in particular, or north-eastern population in general, get snatched away. BJP leaders like Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that bill is the only way to prevent Assam becoming an another Jammu and Kashmir. The leader has further added that Hindus have already lost the power to decide in 14 districts of Assam. 30 Assembly seats have already gone. If the bill comes in, Hindus can at least hope to save 17 seats.
Under the garb of opposing the bill, Marxist leaders like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti’s Akhil Gogoi has also raised thier secessionist rants. In a rally at Assam’s Tinsukia district, he had said that “If the government gives us the respect we deserve, we are with the nation but if the sentiments of the indigenous Assamese are ignored and the bill is passed, then each Assamese must have the courage to say that they will not be a part of India.”
The opposition to the bill also has seen the bizarre situation of AGP and AIUDF coming together in attacking the government. But Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that AGP is an emotional party, and they will come back to the alliance with BJP in due course.
The Nagaland leaders have also cited the Indian constitution’s Article 371(A), which grants the state some special status. They in addition to Article 371(A) have also cited Inner Line Permit, which disallows any Indian Citizen to visit the state without proper permits. The NDDP led People’s Democratic of the State has also made it clear that it will leave no stone unturned to protects the rights of its people.
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, accompanied by Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, have also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and asked him to reconsider the decision regarding the bill’s implementation. CM Sangma had also appealed to CMs of northeastern states to come out and oppose the bill no matter what party they belong to.