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We Are NDA's Ally But Oppose Citizenship Bill, Says JD(U) to NE Parties Opposing Centre's Legislation

Representatives from 10 political parties, including former chief ministers from the region, gathered to unanimously raise their voice against the Bill.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:January 29, 2019, 8:49 PM IST
We Are NDA's Ally But Oppose Citizenship Bill, Says JD(U) to NE Parties Opposing Centre's Legislation
File photo of JD (U) leader KC Tyagi.

Guwahati: Intellectuals in Assam are not happy with the regional party Asom Gana Parishad for their feeble stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka said that the party is fast losing relevance having exposed their 'opportunistic stance' to the Assamese community.

“The AGP’s attitude is disappointing. They had a chance to come back strongly in the Brahmaputra Valley if their regionalism had sounded authentic. By delaying and dithering, they have shown that they are not motivated by a genuine love for the linguistic constituency they seek to represent, but have only been playing an opportunistic game keeping chances alive both ways,” said former Assam DGP Deka.

AGP leaders, including party president Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta, Phanibhushan Choudhury, Birendra Prasad Baishya and former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, took part in a meeting of northeast regional parties on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill held in Guwahati on Tuesday.

“We tried from the start to dissuade the government against bringing about this Bill, but the Home Minister clearly told us that the Bill would be passed at any cost,” said Atul Bora.

Representatives from 10 political parties, including former chief ministers from the region, gathered to unanimously raise their voice against the Bill. The meeting convened by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and AGP President Atul Bora resolved to send a delegation of leaders from various parties to New Delhi to meet with the president of India and Prime Minister Modi and apprise them of the existential fears of the indigenous people.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said he is hopeful that government of India will understand the sentiments of people of Northeast.

“This is not about politics right now, but about the issue of the people. We have unanimously agreed to jointly oppose the Bill. And we are hopeful that after discussions with Government of India and other political parties, Centre will not go ahead with the Bill,” said Sangma.

The 10 political parties who participated in today’s meeting were: Mizo National Front (MNF), Naga Peoples' Front (NPF), National Peoples' Party (NPP), National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Indigenous People Front of Tripura (IPFT) , United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Peoples Democratic Front (PDF), Janata Dal (United) and the Khnam.

“We have already become minority in our own land, outsiders have taken full control. If the Citizenship amendment bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha, it will open corridor to Hindu Bangladeshis in Tripura. In Tripura, immigrants don’t have presence in at least six hill areas, but with the passage of the Bill, illegal migrants will enter Tripura,” said IPFT leader Aghor Debbarma.

While denying any political gain behind their decision to join the fight against the Bill, senior JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said they would request Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to speak for the people of Northeast in New Delhi.

“The mainstream parties have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Northeast – the Bill is against the basic spirit of Northeast, it will change the demography of the region, and the cultural heritage of the Assamese community and the northeastern people. We are a partner of the NDA government, but we have decided to oppose the Bill. We are here to support the people of NE without any political agenda,” remarked Tyagi.

Meanwhile, even as Mizoram Chief Minister and Mizo National Front Chief, Zoramthanga continues to oppose the Bill, the Chakma leaders on Tuesday reiterated that they are indigenous to the population of Mizoram. The Chakma NGOs on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs urging the government to further amend the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the forthcoming budget session and grant Indian citizenship to the over one lakh Chin refugees settled in Mizoram.

“Chin minorities in Myanmar have faced persecution and are not willing to return. So, the Chakma NGOs have appealed to the Government of India to further amend the Citizenship Act to include Myanmar along with persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Dilip Kanti Chakma, President of All India Chakma Students Union.

Elsewhere in Manipur, nine political parties including the Left Parties’ Coordination Committee and the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) refrained from adopting a common resolution in the all party meeting on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill convened by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren.

The PRJA delegates on Monday walked out of the meeting in disagreement with the state government.

“The government proposed that Manipur’s political parties send a delegate each to Delhi to include a clause in the Bill to protect Manipur. However, our stand has always been that the Bill should be withdrawn, and that Manipur Legislative Assembly should hold a special session to take a resolution,” said PRJA Convenor Erendro Leichombam.

“We will not allow ourselves to be misused by the government’s tactics and we will not legitimise their stand in favour of the Bill,” he added.

On the other hand, protests continued across Brahmaputra Valley and other parts of Northeast for yet another day. In an attempt to curtail black flag demonstrations in Assam against Citizenship Bill, the state government has resorted to deny entry to anyone found wearing black outfit at public meetings.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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