Most political parties, student bodies and social organisations in the Northeast hailed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 getting lapsed on Wednesday and called it a “victory” of mass protests in the region.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Atul Bora, president of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which walked out of the alliance with the BJP in the Assam government over the Bill, said, “It is a victory of the people of Assam and that of the entire Northeast.”
Asked if the party will reconsider its decision to exit the alliance, Bora said, “We will now sit together and discuss it and only then reach a decision.”
But senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of the BJP, a fierce supporter of the Bill, told reporters that it was the “defeat of the people of Assam”. “Whatever happens in Parliament, and the numbers there, is a different thing, but the BJP is committed on the Bill and our position will remain the same,” Sarma told the media.
He reiterated his position that if the Bill is not passed then as many as 17 constituencies in Assam “will go to the hands of Bangladeshi Muslims”.
“I support this Bill. My party supports the Bill. In Rajya Sabha, we do not have the majority, as and when we have the majority, the Bill will be passed,” he said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told reporters in Delhi, “It is an emotional moment for the people of the Northeast. The sentiments of the people, the voice of the people have prevailed. I would like to thank NGOs, student bodies, the civil society and media houses for ensuring that the voice of the people reached the leadership at different levels.”
Sangma also thanked 11 political parties — including his National People’s Party (NPP), which leads the coalition in Meghalaya, that came together to oppose the Bill. The group comprised key BJP allies, including the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, which leads the coalition in Nagaland; the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, an ally of the BJP in Tripura; and the Mizo National Front, the ruling party in Mizoram.
The All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Northeast Students Organisation have welcomed the development. “It is a victory of the common people of the Northeast and a victory for those who believe in the secular principle of the Indian constitution. It is the result of a continuous united movement against the Bill,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told The Indian Express.
Mizoram Chief Minister Pu Zoramthanga said, “Of course, I am happy. It is the result of the contribution of people, primarily of the Northeast and also some from other parts of the country.”
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, in a tweet, thanked BJP national general secretary and the party’s Northeast in-charge Ram Madhav “for his understanding on CAB and opting for consensus-driven” approach on the issue. Curfew was lifted from state capital Imphal after the Bill was not tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.