NEW DELHI: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill if passed by Parliament is expected to bring a flux of 20 lakh Bangladeshi immigrants into the country which has sparked off huge unrest in the North East with local BJP units and allied Chief Ministers joining the stir. A key ally of the NDA at the centre, the Janata Dal (United) has decided to “give full support” to the agitation against the Bill with senior leader K.C.Tyagi and newly appointed vice-president of the party Prashant Kishor set to attend a major protest rally in Guwahati on January 28.

BJP President Amit Shah who has been pushing the Bill is seen as the obstacle by protesting groups, as part of the larger Hindutva message that the current regime has decided to send out to the world. But for the people in the North East, the influx has little to do with religion, and more to do with jobs and livelihood as the opposition and governments in the border states mobilise support against the central government's Bill. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come out in full support of the Bill which was passed by the Lok Sabha and will be coming up in the Rajya Sabha in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

The JD(U) decision to oppose the Bill could block it in the Upper House, provided the Congress remains opposed to it. In the Lok Sabha the party decided to walk out and if it does the same in the Rajya Sabha, Tyagi told The Citizen, it would help clear the Bill and in that sense help the government. According to Tyagi “there is no question of the Bill being passed if the Opposition along with our six MPs decides to sit and vote it out.”

The problem he said lay in abstentions, and it was thus imperative for the Congress to change track in the Council of States, and vote against the Bill rather than abstain.

“We are apprehensive about the Congress position now,” Tyagi said maintaining that his party in Parliament had decided to vote against the Citizenship Amendment Bill currently causing havoc in Assam and other states in the North East.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had decided earlier on to oppose the Bill after a delegation from the All Assam Students Union met him, followed by the top leadership of the Asom Gana Parishad. The JD-U took a decision then to support the students and the people of Assam against the Citizenship Bill. Nitish Kumar is also planning to visit Assam and extend support to the people.

Interestingly, the JD(U) is opposing the Bill not on grounds of religious discrimination but of cultural heritage, with the influx of refugees being encouraged by the BJP dispensation seen as a threat to the people of the northeastern states that expect to be impacted directly.

“We will go to any extent to oppose and stop this Bill,” Tyagi asserted.

Currently civil and political society in Assam is on the streets urging the government to withdraw the Bill. The JD-U is the second senior ally to disagree with the BJP on this issue, and has decided to see this through till the end. The first ally was the AGP that has now pulled out of the government, after several warnings, and is amongst those leading the protests.

The remainder of the NDA government in Assam has invoked charges of sedition against respected members of civil society including scholar Hiren Gohain, but the protests have only increased since. The BJP units in the state have also responded to the environment by joining the stir, with the government in New Delhi coming under considerable pressure.

So far however there is no indication that the Modi government is entertaining second thoughts, with top leaders continuing to support the controversial Bill.