Citizenship Bill: BJP riles its Northeast allies

When the JPC on Monday tabled the controversial Bill in Lok Sabha, Assam’s regional Asom Gana Parishad, a BJP ally, wasted no time in announcing that it would pull out of the Sarbananda Sonowal govt.

Published: 09th January 2019 04:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2019 04:58 PM   |  A+A-

Amit Shah, BJP chief

BJP president Amit Shah, file photo. (PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Alliance with regional political parties had helped the BJP wrest power from the Congress in one state after the other in the Northeast. The alliance is now at stake; blame is on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

When the Joint Parliamentary Committee had on Monday tabled the controversial Bill in Lok Sabha, Assam’s regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a BJP ally, wasted no time in announcing that it would pull out of the Sarbananda Sonowal government.

Now, at least three other BJP allies are anguished that the Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha and passed. The National People’s Party (NPP), which heads Meghalaya’s coalition government, is mulling severing its ties with BJP.

NPP leader and Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, described Bill’s passage in the Lower House as unfortunate. “This is very unfortunate that the Bill has been passed in Lok Sabha. We have been for long opposed to the Bill. The state cabinet had also adopted a resolution opposing it,” Sangma told reporters.

Asked if NPP will snap its ties with BJP, he said, “We will soon sit and discuss with our party leaders on whether to continue the alliance or snap it. The NPP is spread across the Northeast. So, we have to speak to our leaders in all the states”.

The BJP had won two seats in last year’s Meghalaya elections. One of the MLAs, AL Hek, was inducted into the Sangma ministry.

The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram has also expressed its resentment. The MNF, which is an ally of BJP in non-Congress North East Democratic Alliance, views the Citizenship Bill as against the principle of secularism. 

In Nagaland, National Democratic Progressive Party and BJP are the two main constituents of the alliance government. The state cabinet has resolved to urge the Centre to re-examine and review the Citizenship Bill. The Neiphiu Rio Cabinet felt the issue required further review given various impending imbalances and to ensure that peace continued to prevail and the sanctity of all past regulations such as the Inner Line Permit and rights of the Nagas as provided in Article 371 (A) ensured.

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