After abstaining from voting on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s ally JD (U) Sunday said it would oppose the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and send a team to Guwahati to support the agitation against it.
The decision was taken at a meeting of JD (U) office-bearers in Patna, with party president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar present, and comes weeks after the NDA ally took a stand against the triple talaq Bill. The JD (U) has also decided to hold a meeting of its national executive in the last week of February.
JD (U) national spokesperson K C Tyagi told The Indian Express, “We have decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, because it is against the spirit of Assamese ‘asmita’. The party has decided to send me and party national vice-president Prashant Kishor to Guwahati on January 27.”
Asked whether the party has taken the stand with the coming elections in mind, Tyagi said, “Though we have not yet decided to field any candidate in Assam or any other part of the Northeast, we are an independent party and can take our stand.”
Passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, the Bill is yet to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. It proposes to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, by relaxing the eligibility rules for an immigrant to get Indian citizenship. The Bill seeks to relax the minimum period of residence in India criteria for certain sections of immigrants — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Political parties and the civil society in Assam are protesting against the Bill, claiming it will change the region’s demography and violates the 1985 Accord.