Cracks over bill persist

Hailakandi: The differences between the Assam PCC and its Barak Valley units on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, have not been fully resolved despite state unit president Ripun Bora claiming on Wednesday night that there was "no division" between the Brahmaputra and Barak Valley Congress on the issue.

Bora had made the claim after an AICC-convened meeting to resolve the differences within the party, with those from Brahmaputra Valley opposing the bill and those from Barak Valley supporting it.

With AICC secretary Bhupen Kumar Borah going public with his views that the PCC should have "anticipated" the differences between the two valleys and taken the Barak Valley units into confidence, the differences became glaring, forcing the AICC to convene the meeting on Tuesday.

Borah, however, is on the same page with the PCC in opposing the bill.

However, the Barak Valley Congress leaders specifically told The Telegraph that they will not oppose the bill like those from Brahmaputra Valley but remain silent instead. They also made it clear that they will not join the signature drive to be carried out against the bill on May 24 across the state.

Mahila Congress president and Silchar MP Sushmita Dev, who is also a member of the joint parliamentary committee that visited the state last week to seek views of the stakeholders, said the Barak and Brahmaputra Valleys had difference of opinion on the issue of language earlier but it didn't harm the party.

Another Congress leader and North Karimganj MLA Kamalakshya Dey Purkayastha said they will not organise a signature campaign in the valley against the bill.

Both Dev and Purkayastha said they will not go against the interests of the people of Barak Valley, who are supporting the bill.

Dev said they will instead "enlighten" the people of Barak Valley against the bill as it is against the Constitution, that it is not secular in nature.

Party insiders said Congress leaders, those from the Hindu community, were uncomfortable and apprehensive because going against the "majority support" for the bill could cost them politically.

"That is why they will remain neutral," one of them said.

Assam PCC president Bora had said on Wednesday after the AICC-called meeting that there is "no division" between the Brahmaputra and Barak Valley Congress on the issue. He said all were united on the PCC stand that the Congress is committed to fight for the protection of all communities irrespective of caste, creed and religion, on the basis of the Assam Accord. He added that the bill is opposed tooth and nail as it is unconstitutional and that the party will take all steps so that no names of any Indian citizens are left out from the NRC.

Additional reporting by Our Special Correspondent in Guwahati


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