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Asom Gana Parishad pulls out of BJP-led govt in Assam over Citizenship Bill

In yet another setback for the BJP before the General Elections, the Asom Gana Parishad on Monday withdrew support from the saffron party-led government in Assam over Citizenship Bill. The announcement in this regard was made by AGP president Atul Bora.

“We made a last ditch attempt today to convince the Centre not to pass the Bill. But Singh told us clearly that it will be passed in Lok Sabha tomorrow. After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance,” PTI reported Bora as saying after meeting the home minister. The AGP, which is in alliance with the BJP (along with the Bodoland People’s Front), has been threatening to break ties with the alliance ever since the BJP announced its intention to table the Bill.

“We told the Home Minister in categorical terms that this Bill will violate the Assam Accord, it will hinder the ongoing NRC updation process. We told him: ‘Please don’t do this for votes’,” said Bora.

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.

Meanwhile, a day after stoking controversy with his “Jinnah’s legacy” comment, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Monday said Hindus in the state will become a minority within five years if the Citizenship Bill is not passed. On Sunday, Sarma had said, “People are concerned that we are trying to bring somebody (outsiders), which is false. Without that Bill, we are surrendering ourselves to the philosophy of Jinnah… This is a fight between Jinnah’s legacy and India’s legacy.”

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 and aims to give citizenship to Hindu, Parsi, Sikh, Jain and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The AGP is opposed to the Bill as it believes it will destroy Assam which has been grappling with the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh for decades now. Ever since May, Assam — especially the Brahmaputra Valley — has seen widespread protests against the Bill.

The Asom Gana Parishad had in October took out a rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Guwahati. Earlier today there was a massive protest in Guwahati’s Dighalipukhuri attended by hundreds protesting against the Bill.

The All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 30 other organisations have called for a state-wide bandh on January 8 to protest against the scheduled tabling of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The bandh has not been called in Assam alone: the Northeast Students’ Organisation (NESO) — the umbrella students organisation that represents the seven sisters states — has also called for a 11-hour northeast bandh on January 8, to voice their opposition to the Bill.

In the 126-seat Assembly in Assam, BJP has 61 MLAs. Its alliance partners Bodo People’s Front and AGP have 14 and 12 seats respectively. However, there is no threat to the government despite AGP’s withdrawal, as they are comfortably placed above the half-way mark.

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