Citizenship Bill vs Assam Accord: Ruling BJP caught in a bind

The BJP’s resolution to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, may see the party getting caught in its own web of contradictory commitments.

Published: 16th September 2018 11:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2018 11:06 AM   |  A+A-

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GUWAHATI: The BJP’s resolution to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, may see the party getting caught in its own web of contradictory commitments.

On one hand, the BJP is resolved to pass the Citizenship Bill, which essentially means granting citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, besides Pakistan and Afghanistan, who migrated to India till December 31, 2014. On the other hand, it is also committed to implement the Assam Accord to retain the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.

“We have a commitment to a category of people who came to India legally or illegally as refugees. This land has always offered succour to people who were in trouble. In 1950, when the Expulsion of Assam Act came into being, it had a clause that said people who come as refugees following persecution, will be exempted from the purview of this Act. So, our government views it as its responsibility that the refugees get the right to live in this country,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said. “We also made a commitment to the people of Assam to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit to protect the Assamese linguistic and cultural identity.”

AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said Madhav’s statement was a contradiction. “How can they fulfil both?  If they seek to protect the interests of a section of the immigrants, it will be a violation of the spirit of the Assam Accord. We will oppose this Bill tooth and nail.”

The Asom Gana Parishad also has reservations. “The moment the Bill is passed, the AGP will pull out of the government,” party chief Atul Bora said.

The AGP has been under attack, particularly from the Congress, for continuing to sail alongside the BJP. “If AGP is truly opposed to the Citizenship Bill, why is it not withdrawing their support to the government?” asked Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora.

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