Regional party quits India's ruling coalition over citizenship row


The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta's statement in Guwahati that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the bill is passed in the Lok Sabha.

The leading civil society group - Asom Nagrik Samaj, a platform of prominent intellectuals, writers and journalists, on Monday observed "Dhikkar Divas" (Condemnation Day) against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, in Dighalipukhuri, Assam.

The Bill endorses citizenship for all religious minorities from neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The AGP on Monday withdrew its support to the ruling BJP-led coalition government after its "last-ditch attempt to convince" the Centre to withdraw the proposed legislation failed.

"As the chief minister, it was his primary duty to ensure that people were not burdened with the bill".

Later, Bora told a television channel, "We felt betrayed at the BJP's attitude towards the bill as when we entered into the alliance, we were convinced Prime Minister Narendra Modi was committed to resolve the issue of illegal migrants.We never dreamt that the BJP could do this to the people of Assam".

The committee also heard the views of the chief secretaries and police chiefs of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The BJP says it is in favor of institutionalizing "constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards" to the ethnic Assamese, but also wants to give citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh as the growth in the Hindu population of Assam had been overtaken by that of Muslims.

In Nagaland, the cabinet of the NDPP-BJP alliance government has made a decision to ask the Centre to reconsider the bill.

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The BJP has 61 members and the party has support from 12 MLAs of the Bodoland People's Front and the sole Independent member.

The Parishad members will meet on Wednesday and decide on the specific course of action if the Bill is passed.

AGP chose to snap ties with the BJP over the Citizenship Bill, which they say will make the Assam Accord "meaningless".

"If the bill in its present form comes into effect, then it will nullify the Assam Accord under which anyone entering the state illegally after March 1971 should be declared a foreigner and deported,"an opposition MP said".

"We, therefore, can not remain an ally of the BJP after this move by the Modi government". The North East Students' Organisation (NESO), the umbrella group of student bodies of Northeast, has called for a Northeast bandh against the Bill on Tuesday.

Most northeastern parties including the allies of BJP, opposition Congress and Left parties have strongly opposed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, saying "the Bill is against the fundamental aspect of the Indian constitution".

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents.

The legislation also seeks to provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and other states, the Home Minister said. The party had also taken out a rally against the bill in October.

The bill will apply to all States and Union Territories of the country and the beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill will be able to reside in any state of the country.