AGP Set to Exit Alliance Over Citizenship Bill, Writes to Amit Shah
'The AGP can never support this obnoxious bill'
GUWAHATI: The controversial Citizenship Bill of 2016 has yet again embarrassed the BJP after its ally in Assam the Asom Gana Parishad shot off a letter to party president Amit Shah accusing the party of violating the "norms of alliance".
In the letter AGP president Atul Bora said it was amicably decided to have an alliance with the BJP on the basis of a clear understanding of the Assam Accord and other major issues.
“But the BJP has violated the understanding, by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Further, the Assam Accord is also intended to be made meaningless… If the bill is intended to pass in the parliament, we will have no other alternatives but to repudiate the existing alliance with the BJP,” said Bora in the letter.
The AGP has been opposing the bill ever since it was tabled in Parliament in 2016. AGP has termed the bill ‘anti-constitutional’ and threatened to come out of the alliance.
The controversial bill endorses citizenship only for non-Muslims from neighbouring countries who entered India before December 31, 2014. Thus the bill also conflicts with the Assam Accord which says that anyone irrespective of their religion, caste and creed who came to Assam after March 25, 1971 is an illegal foreigner.
The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after a six year long agitation to flush out such 'illegal foreigners' in Assam. The AGP which was part of this movement immediately came into power in 1985, and its founder president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta scripted history by becoming one of the youngest chief ministers in the country.
“The AGP is fully committed to the implementation of the provisions of the Assam Accord and hence we can never support the obnoxious Citizenship Amendment Bill. It is learnt that the bill has been placed before the parliament by the joint parliamentary committee in spite of the mass protest across the state,” Bora adds.
The bill was sent to a joint parliamentary committee for review after it was widely opposed in Parliament.
Panchayat polls were held in Assam which concluded on December 9, and the AGP decided to contest these alone. This move by the party's leadership has been widely accepted by grassroots workers and local leaders who were not very fond of the tie-up with the BJP.
“We were suffering from an identity crisis ever since the BJP came into play. Now we are happy to contest alone. The BJP has brought down the AGP's image by bringing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill. And we are confident of doing much better than the BJP in the rural polls,” said Jitu Bokotial, an AGP candidate in a gram panchayat in Dibrugarh district.
At present the AGP has 14 seats in the 126-member Assam assembly, and the BJP has 61.