GUWAHATI, May 8: Gauging the enormity of the problem right, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is determined to go the extra mile and conduct a signature campaign against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and submit it to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). The regional party feels the need for such a step as mere opposition to the Bill may not be enough to block its passage in Parliament.
After opposing the Bill tooth and nail during the hearing conducted by the JPC in Guwahati on Monday, the regional party met on Tuesday at a high-level meeting and took this decision. The party has also reaffirmed its decision to sever its ties with the BJP by pulling out from the coalition government at Dispur in the event of the Bill getting its passage in Parliament.
Presided over by party president and State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, the meeting was attended by all the three cabinet ministers of the party, many party MLAs and other party office-bearers.
During the meeting, the regional party decided to conduct a signature campaign against the Bill in the State till May 31 and submit the signatures of as many as 50 lakh people of the State to the JPC urging it to withdraw the Bill.
Talking to newsmen after the meeting, AGP general secretary Dr Kamala Kanta Kalita said: “There’s no reason for us to back the Bill. The Assam Accord was reached after a prolonged agitation in the State, involving a lot of sacrifices. We won’t let all those sacrifices go in vain. The Assam Accord was not reached based on religion. Any person regardless of his religion entering Assam from Bangladesh after the cut-off date – mid-night of March 24, 1971 – is a foreigner by all accounts.”
Dr Kalita further said: “Fresh problems will spring up in Assam in the event of passage of the Bill in Parliament. NRC is being updated based on the cut-off date as mentioned in the Assam Accord, following a directive from the Supreme Court. We see no reason to be with the BJP at Dispur in the event of passage of the Bill in Parliament. If the Bill is passed, we’ll show off our power.”
Another AGP general secretary and former MP Birendra Prasad Baishya said: “Discrimination on the part of the JPC is glaringly visible in holding only a one-day hearing for 30 districts in the Brahmaputra Valley against a two-day hearing for the only three districts in the Barak Valley. The JPC should also hold hearings in Upper Assam, Lower Assam and North Bank.”