The Bharatiya Janata Party in Assam said on Monday that the Asom Gana Parishad is free to quit the ruling alliance in the state if it is opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, reported The Telegraph. The bill will be placed and passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament, said party spokesperson Rajdeep Roy.
The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, aims to make crucial changes to the Citizenship Act of 1955. If passed, it would make undocumented immigrants – Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis – from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh eligible for citizenship. It would also ease the terms for naturalisation of individuals from these groups. Several groups in Assam have objected to the proposed amendments.
A team of the state BJP, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, recently met central party leaders to discuss the bill and got a positive response, Roy said on Monday. He said the BJP is committed to provide security and shelter to persecuted migrants.
The bill is currently being reviewed by a joint Parliamentary committee.
“If they [Asom Gana Parishad] want to break the alliance, they are most welcome,” Roy said, criticising the party for seeking support from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar against the bill.
Meanwhile, Asom Gana Parishad spokesperson Tularam Gogoi told The Telegraph that his party’s stand was clear. “It [Roy’s remark] is nothing but BJP’s arrogance which will bring about its downfall,” he said. “If they pass the bill we will snap our ties with the BJP.”
Even if the Asom Gana Parishad were to withdraw support, the BJP-led alliance will still have a comfortable majority of 73 seats in the 126-seat Assembly.