BJP allies in Northeast to put up a united fight against Citizenship Bill

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the political parties convened by Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma and AGP President Atul Bora in Guwahati.

Published: 29th January 2019 04:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2019 08:10 PM   |  A+A-

Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma (File | PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Ten regional political parties of the Northeast on Tuesday resolved to put up a united fight against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The political parties, most of which are BJP allies, met at a convention in Guwahati. The Janata Dal (United) had also sent a three-member delegation to the convention. The development comes on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged the NDA government would always protect the interests of Assam. 

His obvious reference was to the controversial Bill which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to the immigrants belonging to six persecuted communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.

“We oppose the Bill, for we believe, if implemented, it will endanger the lives and identity of indigenous communities of Assam and the Northeast,” Mizoram Chief Minister and Mizo National Front (MNF) chief Zoramthanga told reporters.

His Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma of National People’s Party (NPP) said: “We held this convention to cohesively oppose the bill’s passage in Parliament. The convention has unanimously decided that a delegation of all participating political parties from the Northeast along with other parties, which supported the cause, will meet the President and the Prime Minister in the next few days and apprise them of our opposition to the Bill”.

While the parties are miffed with the BJP, they are in no mood to break away either from National Democratic Alliance or non-Congress North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). When asked about it, Sangma said, “It is not right to comment on it now. We will meet again and chalk out our future course of action”.

Similarly, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told this correspondent on the phone from the state: “There is no question of breaking away from the alliance with the BJP”. He added: “We have to respect the voices of people. We stand by the rest of the Northeast in opposing the Bill. We hope the Centre will be sensitive and will not try to pass it in Rajya Sabha”.

Rio’s National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and BJP are the two main constituents of Nagaland government. Earlier, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam had severed its ties with the BJP and pulled out of the BJP-led government in the state.

Apart from NPP, NDPP, MNF, JD (U) and AGP, the other political parties which attended the convention were United Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Front, Hill State People’s Democratic Party and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (all Meghalaya based), Naga People’s Front (Nagaland), and Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura.

Nagaland Cabinet rejects Bill --

In the face of pressure from some organisations in the state, the Nagaland Cabinet has rejected the Citizenship Bill.

In an official statement, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and chief secretary Temjen Toy said the Bill had been an issue of much concern in the state and there had been widespread resentment across the Northeast. They said the people of Nagaland expressed their opposition to the Bill in various forms in a democratic manner and the Cabinet took into account the will and desire of all sections of the people. 

They said the state government had earlier written to the Centre seeking wider consultations to ensure that the rights of indigenous people of the region are fully protected. 

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