Ten political parties of the North East, along with the Janata Dal (United), have unanimously decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said after a meeting among representatives of the parties at Vivanta Taj in Guwahati on Tuesday.
Besides the JD(U), which forms the Bihar government with the BJP, the 10 political parties that met to discuss the bill on Tuesday are members of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). Among them is the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which recently snapped ties with the saffron party in Assam over the proposed legislation.
"Mainstream parties have always failed to look after the concerns of the North East," News18 quoted JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi as having said from Bihar after the meeting. The JD(U)'s North East in-charge NSN Lotha represented the party at the meeting in Guwahati.
The 10 parties from the North East that participated in the meeting are the Mizo National Front (MNF), United Democratic Party (UDP), AGP, Naga Peoples' Front (NPF), National Peoples' Party (NPP), National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP), Peoples Democratic Front (PDF), Indigenous People Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Khnam.
"This meeting is the outcome of a natural process as we felt we must come together and oppose the bill in one voice," NPP president and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma told the Hindustan Times.
Sangma said it was decided at the meeting that representatives will approach President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and request them to withdraw the bill.
Protests against the bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim nationals from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India, have rocked the region.
AGP president and former state agriculture minister Atul Bora, who recently resigned from the Sarbananda Sonowal Assam Cabinet, was quoted by News18.com as having said that "every political party in the region has realised the way the ruling party is trying to impose the bill" upon them.
"They do not have the consent of the people of the region. This meeting will surely give a major momentum to the ongoing movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the region," Bora had said.
Those opposing it have held that the bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on 8 January, would harm the rights of the indigenous people and lead to an influx of immigrants in the region. Earlier on Tuesday, the Nagaland Cabinet rejected the bill following pressure from various tribal organisations and students bodies.
The announcement is bound to make the BJP distinctly uneasy as the North Easy together accounts for 25 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP, either on its own or with NEDA allies, is in power in all the eight states in the North East at present.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jan 29, 2019 15:30:45 IST