Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma will convene a meeting in Guwahati of all regional parties from the North East to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which has led to protests in the state. Chief ministers of most northeastern states have opposed the bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this month.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha in the Budget session of Parliament.
Sangma’s party, the National People’s Party, is likely to decide at the meeting whether to pull out of the North East Democratic Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance, which is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Northeast Now reported on Tuesday.
Several political parties, most of whom are allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party, are expected to attend the meeting. These include the Mizo National Front, National Democratic Progressive Party, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, the Sikkim Democratic Front, and the units of the National People’s Party in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. A Janata Dal (United) delegation, led by its national general secretary KC Tyagi, is also likely to attend the meeting.
In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition in protest against the Citizenship Bill in the first week of January. Three Asom Gana Parishad state ministers later quit the Cabinet.
Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 18 to ask the Centre to scrap the bill. On January 25, Zoramthanga threatened that the ruling Mizo National Front will pull out of the North East Democratic Alliance if the bill is not revoked.
On Monday, several political parties held a meeting at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Manipur’s capital Imphal to discuss the Citizenship Bill, the Imphal Free Press reported. After the meeting, nine political parties decided not to attend an all-party meet to be held in New Delhi. The parties said the BJP-led state government had failed to address their demands.
Besides the regional parties, the Manipur unit of the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India and the Trinamool Congress have also opposed the bill. Communist Party of India Manipur unit chief L Sotinkumar Singh called the bill “communal”, “unconstitutional” and against secularism.
The Manipur Congress had decided not to attend the meeting. The Manipur Peoples Party did not attend because the state government did not take a concrete stand against the bill, its president O Jugindro said.
64 groups call for a strike in Manipur
As many as 64 community service organisations in Manipur announced a 24-hour bandh in the state, starting midnight on Wednesday, the Imphal Free Press reported. The groups came together under the banner of Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill after a meeting at Imphal Hotel.
Committee member Tongmang Haokip said that an emergency public meeting will be held at 1 pm on Tuesday to protest against the bill, and tell the Centre to withdraw it at any cost. Another public meeting will be organised in the hill districts on Wednesday, he added.
All Assam Students Union announces blockade
The All Assam Students Union on Monday announced that they will hold a one-hour blockade of national highways across the state on Tuesday, between noon and 1 pm. The students union said it will hold the blockade to protest the assault on its members by alleged BJP workers in Nalbari district on Sunday.
“The government and the BJP would be given proper reply to every assault on the AASU members,” the students union’s chief advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said. “No one will get respite.”