AGP to oppose CAA while in government
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the ruling BJP, on Saturday said it would continue to battle against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and fight for constitutional safeguards of the indigenous people of Assam while staying in the government.
Unlike the last time, the AGP continues to be a part of the government with three of its leaders serving as ministers in the state government though the BJP has brought in the bill. The AGP has drawn flak for sticking to the BJP.
AGP legislators Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhusan Choudhury, who are ministers in the BJP-led state government, are accused of maintaining a “safe” stand on the citizenship bill while party seniors oppose it.
The AGP had snapped ties with the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). However later it refreshed its alliance over a seat-sharing arrangement. After the CAA was brought in, the AGP decided to challenge the Act in the Supreme Court, allegedly buckling under increased public pressure.
Water resources minister Keshab Mahanta said: “Fight for the constitutional safeguard of indigenous people’s culture, language, identity and political rights will continue from inside and outside the government. We want Assam to be out of the CAA’s purview and believe that we will win our case in the apex court. At the same time, we are also pressing for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord soon.”
The clause grants constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to the Assamese people and protects, preserves and promotes their cultural, social and linguistic identities.
Asked why AGP had moved the Supreme Court when in Rajya Sabha its MP Birendra Prasad Baishya voted in favour of the bill, Keshab Mahanta said: “Since other northeastern states which have inner-line permits (ILP) and Sixth Schedule areas of the region have been kept out of the CAA, we are pressing for exclusion of Assam too. Our MP also raised the same demands in the Rajya Sabha.”
AGP sources said Baishya had voted in favour of the bill after the BJP issued a whip to its MPs and those of its allies to do the same.
Agriculture minister and AGP president Atul Bora added: “The AGP was a product of the historic Assam Movement and we will never work against our people. Rumours are being spread against us, but if the people of Assam scrutinise our work, they will understand us. The AGP will not betray.”
Dismissing the demand for his removal from the party chief’s post, Bora said: “The decision of who will head the party will be taken at the party’s general house meeting, not by those protesting on roads.”
On Friday, all the three AGP ministers were present at a peace rally organised by the ruling alliance at Morigaon’s Jagiroad. Party sources had said the ensuing general house meeting of the AGP may witness a change of guard. Bora’s three-year stint as party president will end this month. The general house meeting is expected within a month.