BJP loses another ally: Asom Gana Parishad quits NDA over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, having threatened to do so in past

BJP's ally in Assam Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has decided to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance, reports said on Monday. The development comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was working to ensure the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 gets the Parliament's nod.

Around 70 organisations, led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), staged protests in response, putting pressure on the AGP to snap ties with the BJP. AGP president Atul Bora confirmed the news to reporters in Delhi. According to sources, Bora along with the AGP delegation met home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi before making it official. "We made a last-ditch attempt on Monday to convince the Centre not to pass the Bill. But Singh told us clearly that it will be passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance," Bora said in New Delhi after meeting the home minister.

Bora was earlier quoted as saying by The Sentinel that the party will write to Modi on Monday. “We will fight against this Bill,” he said. “If the Bill is passed, it will not take much time to move out of the coalition."

The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta's statement here that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in passed by Lok Sabha.

AGP joins list of crucial allies that the BJP has lost over policy and ideological decisions — Chandrababu Naidu's TDP quit NDA earlier in 2018 and Upendra Khushwaha's RLSP was recently in news for breaking alliance with the NDA. Not officially, but Shiv Sena has been more of critique than an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant nationality to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of their residence in India instead of 12 even if they don't possess any proper document. Several indigenous organisations in the state have been opposing the Bill as they believe it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord which had fixed 24 March, 1971 as the cut off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion. The Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI (M) and a few other parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill claiming that citizenship can't be given on the basis of religion and that it is unconstitutional.

 BJP loses another ally: Asom Gana Parishad quits NDA over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, having threatened to do so in past

File image of AGP president Atul Bora. ANI

Flagging off BJP's Lok Sabha poll campaign in the North East, Modi said on 4 January: "It (the Bill) is linked to emotions and related to peoples' lives. It is not for the benefit of anyone but a penance for the injustices done in the past," he said.

He continued, "Where will a persecuted person, who has faith in Mother India, go? Does only the colour of the passport matter and not any blood relation? The country was partitioned; people believed in those who divided it and some stayed back for the love of their land and home but their hopes and aspirations were crushed.

"Will Mother India not embrace them under such circumstances? Will their cries not be heard? Mistakes may have been made in the past during partition. I do not want to dwell on those, but penance for past injustice is necessary," he said.

Modi said the Bill was brought in 2016 after deep thinking and long discussions. "I hope that the bill will be passed as soon as possible in Parliament. There is immense responsibility on those having faith in Mother India to keep in mind the interest of all concerned".

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 07, 2019 19:14:12 IST