Assam's Mahanta calls for joint efforts against citizenship bill
The Assam Andolan Sangrami Mancha, a platform of Assam Agitation leaders, led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, on Friday threatened to take legal recourse if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, is passed in the Rajya Sabha.
A delegation of AGP leaders, led by party president Atul Bora, met Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma in his Tura residence on Friday and vowed to oppose the bill collectively. The AGP said Conrad underscored the need for a unified protest by all northeastern states against the bill as it would have dangerous consequences.
Mahanta, the Mancha’s chief adviser, said the bill would damage Assam’s secular fabric. He added that the Centre might try to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha in the budget session from January 21 to February 13. Mahanta said they had sought support from other political parties to foil the government’s bid.
The bill — which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, after six years of residence in the country — was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8.
Mahanta said they had met Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav and they had promised to oppose the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The former Assam chief minister accused a couple of senior BJP ministers of conspiring to create a communal divide in the name of the bill to reap political dividends. “These ministers should not forget that they had taken an oath of allegiance to the Constitution. They violated their oath of office by taking a communal stand on the bill,” Mahanta said.
He urged Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi and Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami to take legal action against minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia also sought action against Sarma, accusing him of violating the Constitution by making communal statements and making a distinction between Hindu and Muslim migrants.