October 3, 2018 2:41:03 am
The Janata Dal (United) has pledged its support to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on the issue of the party’s opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which has set the regional party against ruling alliance partner BJP in Assam.
Introduced in Lok Sabha in July 2016, the Bill is currently with a Joint Parliamentary Committee. It is likely to be taken up during the Winter Session of Parliament.
The Bill envisages crucial changes in Citizenship Act, 1955, making undocumented immigrants — Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh — who had come to India before December 31, 2014, eligible for grant of citizenship.
An eight-member AGP delegation had met Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar in Patna over the weekend and sought the party’s support against passage of the Bill.
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JD(U) secretary-general K C Tyagi, who was present in the meeting, told The Indian Express, “Nitishji told the AGP leaders, ‘we are with you’.”
If carried through, the Bill would facilitate settlement of Hindu immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Assam and other north-eastern states. “This would lead to a demographic change in the entire region,” he said.
Tyagi said the JD(U) national executive, at a meeting held here on July 8, had adopted a resolution opposing the Bill by describing it as a clear threat to indigenous languages and culture of Assam.
About the BJP and AGP having divergent views on the Bill, Tyagi said, “Yes…but one has to understand that even while we (JD-U) agree with BJP on many issues, we disagree with them on many other matters. We have had independent relations with many parties such as the AGP and the Akali Dal for decades.”
The AGP delegation was led by party president and Assam’s Agriculture Minister Atul Bora and former CM Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. The team gave Nitish a memorandum which states, “We solicit your kind cooperation both inside and outside Parliament…so that the Bill cannot get through Parliament”.
The Assam ruling alliance comprises the BJP (with 61 seats), AGP (14) and Bodoland People’s Front (12). While the government will not fall even if the AGP pulls out, at a broader level it is felt that the BJP cannot afford losing allies ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
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