Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Mahanta on Tuesday said that the BJP should seek a fresh mandate from the people in the state after the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) pulled out of the ruling alliance.
The AGP walked out Monday following the BJP’s decision to go ahead with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. Large sections of Assamese society consider the Bill to be against the basic principles of the 1985 Assam Accord, according to which any person who came into the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971 would be identified as a foreigner.
Mahanta, a senior AGP leader, said at a press conference in Guwahati, “The BJP had a pre-poll alliance with the AGP before the 2016 Assembly polls. The Assam people voted for the BJP-AGP alliance, not the BJP alone. They cannot claim to have formed the government on their own. As the AGP has now quit the alliance, the BJP has no moral right to be in power and they should seek a fresh mandate.”
Meanwhile, state BJP president Ranjit Dass told The Indian Express that his party has welcomed the passing of the Bill in the Lok Sabha. “We thank the Narendra Modi government…also for announcing the assurance to provide ST status to six communities in Assam soon,” he said.
Dass also said that the notification of a high-level committee by the Centre to work towards the implementation of the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord would be “immensely beneficial to the Assamese community”.
Clause 6 of Assam Accord says, “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”
However, state BJP spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora resigned soon after the Bill was passed. Bora told The Indian Express that he quit because he opposed the Bill. “I truly feel that the Bill will harm the Assamese society and pose serious threat to our language and culture. It will also violate the Assam Accord,” he said.