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AGP Pulls Out Of BJP-Led Coalition In Assam Over Citizenship Bill

AGP Pulls Out Of BJP-Led Coalition In Assam Over Citizenship Bill

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on January 8 accused Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of "not cooperating" on the Citizenship Amendment Bill and giving due respect to the emotions and interests of the Assamese people.

"We had categorically said that we will not allow the bill to be passed at any cost and tried till the last moment", he added.

The proposed legislation seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"We tried our best to convince the Modi government not to pursue the Bill that goes against the constitutional provisions, besides being potentially unsafe for the indigenous people of Assam".

The letter, whose copy was given by Bora to reporters at a press conference on December 10, stated that the AGP is fully committed to the implementation of the Assam Accord of 1985. "If Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues and the state BJP leadership had taken a strong stand and respected people's sentiments on the bill, then the Centre would not have dared to go ahead with such arrogance", Bora said. "The State has since India's independence absorbed waves of migrants from present day Bangladesh and can no longer do so", AGP president Atul Bora said after returning from New Delhi on Tuesday morning.

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Business establishments, commercial firms and other shops also did not open their shutters extending full support to the bandh. "The Assamese and other indigenous peoples feel betrayed by the Narendra Modi government, which seems hell bent upon making Assam a dumping ground for foreigners thereby threatening our existence", AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattarcharya said.

The AGP and the BJP had forged an alliance in the state just before the 2016 Assembly elections with the sole objective of keeping the Congress out of power by preventing division of anti-Congress votes.

Police said the situation turned unruly suddenly after a group of people shouting slogans against the Bill gathered in front of the BJP office in Amolapatty in Dibrugarh and ransacked it.

Members of different organisations hold placards against a Joint Committee hearing on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill at the Assam Administrative Staff College, Khanapara, in Guwahati.

"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues".

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Besides Opposition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party's allies Shiv Sena and JD (U) would also oppose the Bill in Parliament.

The bill - aggressively pushed by the BJP-led government - has become a political and social flashpoint, particularly in the backdrop of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being updated in Assam.

Several indigenous organisations in the state have been opposing the bill as they believe it would harm their cultural identity.

Political parties in the North-East, especially regional outfits, allege that the Bill is an attempt to make illegal migrants eligible for Indian citizenship on the basis of religion.

"It was not only the Muslim League that wanted to have Assam in that plan, but the same demand was also raised from inside the state at that point of time", said Sarma. They also pelted stones in many parts of Assam. The bill now grants Indian citizenship by naturalisation to communities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

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Women have gained more rights since the crown prince consolidated his power a couple of years ago. Also, her testimony before a divorce court will only be worth half that of her husband's.

The AGP has no MP in Lok Sabha or in Rajya Sabha.


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