NPP may snap ties with BJP-led NDA over Citizenship Bill

09 January, 2019, 11:36 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Activists of the Left Democratic Manch alliance hold placards as they take part in a rally in protest against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in Guwahati. — AFP

The Joint Parliamentary Committee, set up to look into the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, submitted its report Monday, upholding most of its provisions.

The proposal has been hotly contested in Assam, a hilly state that has witnessed violence between settlers and indigenous groups, who say they have lost land and jobs to the newer entrants. "CRPF troopers after being unable to control the mob opened fire injuring six tribal youths, two of them seriously", said a police officer.

It is estimated that millions of Bengali-speaking people in Assam trace their roots to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971 with India's help.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a partner in the BJP-led Assam government, broke up with the BJP while the NDA allies, the Shiv Sena and the JD (U), have opposed this legislation. "We have reports of four injured persons", Singh said.

AGP made a decision to snap ties with the BJP over the Citizenship Bill, which they say will make the Assam Accord "meaningless".

The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have escaped religious persecution.

The Bill was cleared at a meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and it's expected to be tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, an official privy to the development said.

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The BJP had promised to ensure the passage of the bill in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The NESO and its federal units in the seven Northeast states clamped the 11-hour bandh across the region on 8 January to protest against the bill.

"Let us all join hands to find an acceptable, rational and practical solution to this important issue", Sonowal said.

"We tried our best to convince the Modi government not to pursue the Bill that goes against the constitutional provisions, besides being potentially risky for the indigenous people of Assam". The Assamese now feel this bill - giving citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh - will make a large section of illegal immigrants claimants to the state's resources.

"We, therefore, can not remain an ally of the BJP after this move by the Modi government". "But, unfortunately, JPC has now taken a "U-turn" by ignoring the public sentiment prevalent in the state", AGP president Atul Bora said. "There is a divisive nature to this bill and the draft committee has shot down all suggested amendments", Professor Sougata Roy, a member of parliament from Trinamool Congress, said during the protest. "Assam alone should not have to bear the entire burden", Union minister Rajnath Singh said while responding to the debate on the bill. Assam's people will never allow this bill to be implemented.

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.

Ruling BJP's ally IPFT's Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that they have extended moral support to the NESO's shutdown in the northeastern region comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim. As the government did not heed to the demand, the Congress staged a walkout.

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