Trouble for the NDA seems to be growing as hours after RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha quit the alliance on Monday, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) threatened to walk out of it if the “obnoxious” Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed in Parliament. In a letter written to BJP chief Amit Shah, AGP president Atul Bora has said the party will have no alternative but to “repudiate the existing alliance” in case of such an eventuality.
“We are to bring to your notice that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is passed in Parliament, the provisions of Assam Accord and the ongoing preparation of the National Register of Citizens will be totally frustrated and the Assamese language, culture, and demography will be changed,” the letter reads.
“Hence, if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is intended to be passed in Parliament we will have no other alternative except to repudiate the existing alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party,” it stated.
“It is pertinent to mention herein that the Asom Gana Parishad is fully committed to the implementation of the provisions of the Assam Accord and hence, we can never support the obnoxious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016,” the AGP said in the letter.
Bora, along with Kesab Mahanta, the AGP working president, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the party are ministers in the BJP-led government in Assam.
The letter to Shah, which was also signed by Mahanta, said, “It is reliably learnt that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in spite of our protest, including the protests resorted to by various organisations of indigenous people of Assam before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, is to be placed before Parliament.”
It referred to the understanding arrived at prior to the Assam Assembly election, 2016, and said the AGP had decided to enter the alliance during a discussion with the BJP in New Delhi on “the basis of clear understanding of the Assam Accord and other major issues of Assam, including the seat adjustments”.
As a result of the alliance between the BJP and the AGP, the 2016 Assam Assembly election was fought and the new government of alliance, led by the saffron party, was installed in the state, it said.
But the understanding between the two parties was “violated” by the Centre by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Parliament as well as by promulgating ordinances on the subject, it stated, adding, the Assam Accord was also intended to be made “meaningless”.
Bora and Mahanta hoped that Amit Shah’s “good office” would certainly take necessary steps so that the bill is not placed in Parliament at any point of time.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and entered India before December 31, 2014 and resided here for six years.
Reacting to the AGP letter, Assam BJP chief, in a press conference, said, “We are going to have a meeting of the national executive on December 13. There, we will discuss the issue of alliance with the AGP.”
The draft National Register of Citizens of the state had been prepared in accordance with the Accord. The AGP has been opposing the Citizenship Bill, saying if it is passed, the NRC exercise in the state would be of no use. The party had also taken out a rally against the bill in October.
(With PTI inputs)