Earlier this month, Assam Gana Parishad had exited the BJP-led government in Assam protesting the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Now, National Peoples Party’s supremo and Chief Minister of Meghalaya Conrad Sangma has also joined AGP’s protests against the bill and labelled it as a huge threat to the stability of north-east.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on 8th January, seeks an amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, to provide citizenship to the persecuted minorities (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jains, and Christians) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
The bill was met with severe opposition from Assam and other political parts of North-east. It is alleged that the bill is against the interests of the people of Assam, as it will allow non-muslims from foreign countries, mainly Bangladesh, to settle there. They have alleged that the bill is in violation of the 1985 Assam Accords which says anyone who came to the state after 1971 has to be deported.
NPP led Meghalaya Democratic Front, of which BJP is a part too, has already passed a resolution condemning the bill. CM Sangma, accompanied by Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, had 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 North-east to come out and oppose the bill no matter what party they belong to.
AGP on Friday had led a delegation to meet CM Sangama prompting him to lead the protests against Citizenship Amendment Bill at his residence at Tura.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is not going to spell disaster for Assam alone. This Bill will be detrimental for all States of the north-eastern region. We can get the Bill cancelled only if we’re united.” AGP president Atul Bora was quoted before the meeting with Sangma. He added that Amendment Bill will affect the ongoing National Register of Citizens drive and alleged Central government of disrespecting the people’s mandate.
Since the passing of the bill, Janta Dal (United) of Bihar and Shiv Sena of Maharastra have already expressed opposition to the bill, despite being part of NDA. The Bill also has united parties which have traditionally been arch enemies. The CPI(M) has been supported in its opposition to the Bill by Mamata Banerjee’s TMC. Members from the TMC and CPI(M), along with Congress and Samajwadi party, had also moved dissent notes to the JPC report on the Bill.
On the heels of large scale protests against the bill, architect of BJP’s rise in north-east and Assam’s finance minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma had said that Amendment Bill is the only way to prevent Assam from becoming another state like Jammu and Kashmir.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has stated that groups with vested interests are spreading misinformation about the bill and it will in no way bring an influx of immigrants into Assam, contrary to what is being spread among the people.
CM Sangma, so far, has not expressed a wish to exit the NEDA like AGP. Currently, NEDA heads the government in all the north-eastern states. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Manipur have BJP CMs, while other states in the region are ruled by regional parties which are part of NEDA.