Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally Asom Gana Parishad on Saturday said it will oppose the amendments to the Citizenship Act, days after voting for it in the Parliament, India Today reported. The announcement followed amid nationwide protests after the amendments were passed in the two Houses of the Parliament in recent weeks, and received the presidential assent to become a law.
The party is a part of the BJP-led Assam government and three of its leaders are in the Cabinet.
“We will fight the bill legally and politically,” said AGP MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita. “This is what the people of Assam wish.” Kalita said it was a mistake to vote in favour of the bill in the Rajya Sabha. “Just because some people erred, we can’t keep sitting now. We will meet the HM and PM and ask them to keep Assam out of the Act’s purview.”
AGP’s declaration reportedly came after the party received serious flak in the state, where violent protests prevailed till Friday. The situation in Assam, and other north eastern states, largely remained peaceful on Saturday. Curfew was relaxed for a few hours in Guwahati and Dibrugarh districts along with Meghalaya’s capital Shillong. Internet services in Assam will remain suspended till Monday.
On December 3, AGP’s chief Atul Bora had subtly hinted at supporting the controversial amendments, and said the passage of the bill was almost inevitable. He had then suggested that people of Assam should rather use it as an opportunity to “bargain better” with the Centre to get more Constitutional safeguards.
Following the introduction of the amended citizenship law, several members of the BJP in Assam resigned, including senior leader Jagadish Bhuyan – who held the post of chairman of Assam Petrochemicals Limited. He tendered his resignation from the party and his post on Friday.
Actor-turned-politician Jatin Bora, who was a part of the saffron party, resigned on Thursday in protest against the amended law. Another Assamese actor Ravi Sharma had also resigned after the bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha on December 11.
Members of the artist fraternity also strongly opposed to the amended law with National Award winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua deciding to withdraw his film from the 8th Assam State Film Awards and film festival. Singer Papon on Thursday cancelled his concert in Delhi, saying his “home state Assam is burning, crying and under curfew”.