New Delhi: The BJP’s problems with its allies could be mounting. On a day Bihar leader Upendra Kushwaha quit from the Narendra Modi cabinet, another alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has sounded a warning to the BJP over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
AGP president Atul Bora has written to BJP chief Amit Shah about his party’s reservations on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and said it will make the Assam Accord “meaningless”.
“We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues. The Government of India by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament has violated the understanding,” read the letter.
Bora said the AGP will never support the “obnoxious” Citizenship Bill. He also targeted the BJP for “tabling the Bill in Parliament” despite protests in Assam.
The AGP leader asked Shah to take necessary steps to withdraw the Bill.
Meanwhile, a report in The Hindu reported that the Home Ministry has made amendments to the Citizenship Rules, 2009 under which separate column is to be included in the citizenship form of those from six minority communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“Do you belong to one of the minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Christians?”, is what the form will ask.
Assam, a state which has seen decades of violence based on ethnicity, is again coming close to the boiling point over this new Bill.
The state saw widespread protests over the last few months over the contentious issue. Hundreds took to the streets in May this year challenging the central government’s proposed move to facilitate Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This includes six communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is under extreme pressure over the Citizenship Bill. The BJP had fought the election on a strong anti-immigrant campaign. In fact, the CM himself had come of age through the language movement. The BJP's main ally in Assam Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is a party founded on the issue illegal immigrants and its single point of focus has been the enforcement of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit.
Thus, they are vehemently against the new Bill and are now threatening to quit the alliance if the Centre goes forward with the Bill. Numerous leaders, including the former Chief Minister and once firebrand youth leader Prafulla Mahanta, have threatened to quit the government over the Bill.