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Amit Shah Remains Mum Over Citizenship Bill at AGP Rally Months After Statewide Protests

In his rally address, the BJP president affirmed the party's commitment to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which provides a constitutional safeguard to protect the rights of the Assamese people in the region.

Pranjal Baruah | News18

Updated:March 29, 2019, 12:36 PM IST
Amit Shah Remains Mum Over Citizenship Bill at AGP Rally Months After Statewide Protests
File photo of BJP chief Amit Shah. (Credit: ANI)

Guwahati: Like all the Bharatiya Janata Party rallies, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘josh’ slogans reverberated at Amit Shah's Assam rally too. But unlike other states, a local connect was amiss from this public meeting. Despite ally's concerns over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), the BJP chief chose to leave out the state's crucial issue in his speech.

This comes on the heels of the party's vociferous campaign for the passing of the Bill, which seeks to ease the process of granting Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

AGP had even walked out of the coalition government in January stating that the CAB would violate the Assam Accord of 1985 which aimed at detecting and deporting illegal immigrants. Though the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, it wasn’t tabled in the Rajya Sabha in the last session before polls and lapsed as a result.

Two months later in March, the two parties once again joined hands on a seat-sharing condition. The AGP offered to field their candidates from three Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat.

According to the arrangement, the AGP is fighting from the parliamentary seats of Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor.

Despite stitching an alliance with the ruling party at the Centre, AGP president Atul Bora stressed that the party continues to oppose the CAB and the refreshing of the alliance was only done to keep the Congress out of power.

In February, when the hostilities between the two parties had reached a head over the bill, Shah in an interaction with BJP Yuva Morcha member in Lakhimpur, just 130 odd kilometres away from Kaliabor, had said that the party would bring back the CAB back again if it's voted to power.

Although the party president left out any mention of the bill in his rally address on Thursday, he affirmed BJP’s commitment to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which provides a constitutional safeguard to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people in the region.

“The Congress despite signing the Assam Accord did nothing. But our government has constituted a high power committee which is already working on how to implement Clause 6 of the Accord,” Shah said adding, “It’s the BJP government which has begun the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) updation process in Assam and if you want an Assam free from infiltration, then Modi must be brought back as the Prime Minister. Modi government has made NRC possible which will guard Assam from cross border infiltration.”

Unlike last month, this time Shah rallied the BJP supporters to vote for the AGP candidates.

“Be it Lotus (BJP symbol) or Elephant (AGP symbol), BJP workers and supporters have to make sure that the alliance of BJP-AGP and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) wins all 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam,” he said.

A former AGP leader who resigned after the party renewed its tied with the BJP hit out at Shah’s rally address referring to the sharp turn the party had taken on the issue.

“It’s a politics of convenience. One month back, Shah was lashing out at AGP and today he is rallying for AGP. He deliberately did not utter a single word of CAB because he knows that it may impact their vote banks. But since BJP has always maintained that it would bring back the Bill, the people of the state must realize the truth,” Lachit Bordoloi said.

“AGP leaders have gone blind behind the power race and ignoring the reality. They must understand that BJP renewed the alliance only because it suits them for now. Moreover, the issue of CAB was not resolved.”

While renewing their alliance, both the parties had decided to reach to a consensus on CAB.

All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) general secretary, Aminul Islam said, “It’s nothing but double standard of both the parties. Since Shah himself had announced of bringing back the CAB again if voted to power, their silence on the issue today is easily understood. This is merely a poll strategy.”

Shah also came down heavily on Congress and accused the party for its “unholy” nexus with AIUDF.

He alleged that AIUDF has abstained from fielding its candidate in Kaliabor and other seats only to help the Congress. From Kaliabor, Congress has yet again fielded Gaurav Gogoi, the sitting MP and son of three times Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

“We need a strong leader like Narendra Modi who can take a decision for the safety and progress of the country. Congress’ Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was an MP from Assam did nothing for the state but as soon as Modi came took charge, Assam’s progress has accelerated. From stopping poaching of rhinos to expanding the Numaligarh refinery and making world-class infrastructures, BJP has been doing it all for Assam. Therefore vote for Narendra Modi once again,” Shah said.

Modi is slated to visit the state for an election campaign rally later this week.

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