Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday said the National Democratic Alliance government had been unsuccessful in tabling the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha due to the united efforts of political parties and people, and called it a victory, PTI reported.
“The bill not being presented in the Rajya Sabha is a victory of the people and political parties who voiced their opposition to the bill,” he said in Guwahati. “This is definitely an emotional moment and we were united for a cause and spoke in one voice to protect the interests and identity of the region.”
Sangma thanked all the political parties across the country who came together to oppose the contentious legislation. The bill sought to amend a 1955 law 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 Lok Sabha had passed it on January 8.
The bill has now lapsed because the last session of the current Lok Sabha ended last week but the Rajya Sabha could not pass it by then.
Sangma was the first chief minister in the North East whose Cabinet decided to not support the bill. He was also instrumental in uniting 10 political parties against the legislation. Sangma had also warned that his National People’s Party will decide at an appropriate time if it needed to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government over the bill.
The National People’s Party supports the BJP governments in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, while the saffron party supports the National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government.
Asom Gana Parishad leader Atul Bora said a united North East had proved that the government cannot play with the interests of the indigenous population. “This should be a warning for the Centre that we will in no way compromise with the future of the people of North East,” he said.
The Asom Gana Parishad had last month pulled out of its alliance with the BJP in protest against the bill. Three party ministers, including Bora, had quit their positions in the Assam Cabinet. Bora said his party will in future take the people of the state into full confidence before joining hands with any political party.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh of the BJP on Wednesday had also described the failure of the Rajya Sabha to pass the draft law as a “victory of the people”.