Centre invites NE CMs for meeting on citizen bill
The Centre has invited the chief ministers of the Northeast for talks on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Friday, after 10 political parties from the region, most of them allies of the ruling BJP, met here and unanimously opposed the “anti-Northeast” bill.
Sources in the Meghalaya chief minister’s office in Shillong told The Telegraph that the ministry of home affairs called the resident commissioner, Meghalaya House, in New Delhi, on Wednesday and invited chief minister Conrad Sangma for talks on the bill, which has seen widespread protests in the region since December.
“Similar calls were made to other chief ministers of the region on Wednesday. The meeting will be held at 3pm on Friday,” the source said.
The convention on the bill held at a hotel here on Tuesday saw 11 parties joining forces to “strongly oppose” the bill and to meet and convince Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind to get the bill scrapped.
The parties were the AGP, National Peoples’ Party (NPP), Mizo National Front (MNF), National Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), United Democratic Party (UDP), Indigenous People Front of Tripura (IPFT), Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP), Peoples Democratic Front (PDF), Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) and the Northeast zone of the JDU.
Barring the AGP and NPF, others are allies of the BJP.
The convention was attended by two chief ministers, Sangma and Mizoram’s Zoramthanga, two former chief ministers, Nagaland’s T.R. Zeliang and Assam’s Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, besides party presidents and general secretaries of the parties like the AGP’s Atul Bora.
The Centre’s invitation comes a day ahead of the budget session of Parliament starting on Thursday, where the Centre is expected to push the bill in the Rajya Sabha after having passed it in the Lok Sabha early this month.
The resolutions adopted by the convention to “protect the region and its people” and take appropriate steps if the Centre pushed the bill through could have rattled the Centre, party sources said.
“The ministry meeting is a result of Tuesday’s convention. The BJP cannot antagonise its allies, more so in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. It has already lost the AGP and the NPF. The Centre will clarify its stand on the bill,” an AGP office-bearer said.
The political parties, till the time of filing this report, had not got an appointment with the Prime Minister for Friday.
They had formally moved the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, soon after the convention.
MHA spokesperson Ashok Prasad had said every application for citizenship would be thoroughly inquired into by the deputy commissioner or district magistrate, and submitted to the state government, which will also conduct an inquiry through its agencies and submit its recommendations to the Centre.
No one will get citizenship without the state government’s recommendations, Prasad had said.