“Currently, we (Asom Gana Parishad) are a part of the BJP-led Assam government. If Centre passes the Citizen Amendment Bill 2016 in the Parliament then we will break our alliance with the state govt,” Assam Minister Atul Bora of the Asom Gana Parishad has reiterated to media on Saturday, September 29.
The AGP is a junior partner in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam, with three of its MLAs serving as ministers. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was once a prominent leader of the AGP, before later switching over to the BJP.
In June this year, Bora had told National Herald that AGP strongly opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, saying, "It will violate the Assam Accord and it will also violate the entire process of NRC updation. The people fought for six long years to detect and deport the illegal immigrants from Assam after which the Assam Accord was signed. The agitation saw the sacrifice and bloodshed of 855 People.” Bora has also said that the AGP would not continue its alliance with the BJP if the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed. Since its introduction in 2016, the AGP has been vociferously protesting against the bill, which is presently under consideration by a joint committee of Parliament.
AGP chief and former Assam CM Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had last month accused the Narendra Modi Government of using the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process underway in Assam for political gains, and demanded immediate withdrawal of the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act. Mahanta had also told National Herald at the time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not fulfil even a single promise he made to the people of Assam during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.
Accusing the BJP of “majority appeasement”, Mahanta had said that the BJP government is trying to change the definition of illegal migrants by amending the Citizenship Act 1955. By doing so, the BJP wants to provide citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants who came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, alleged Mahanta, which he said would be a “clear violation of the Assam Accord”.
Apart from Mahanta, a large section of people and organisations in Assam and the North-East have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants, irrespective of their religion.
Another BJP ally in the NDA, the Shiv Sena had extended its support to the AGP in June this year on the Centre's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill issue. Noting that AGP was strongly opposing the bill, the Sena had said every region has its own 'element of pride', hence a linguistic-based state formation policy was accepted.