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‘Amendment in Citizenship Bill may hurt BJP’

| MANOJ ANAND
Published : Nov 1, 2016, 1:06 am IST
Updated : Nov 1, 2016, 1:06 am IST

Former Assam chief minister and AGP founder-president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on Monday said that the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, to provide citizenship to Hindu immigrants in Assam ma

Former Assam chief minister and AGP founder-president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on Monday said that the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, to provide citizenship to Hindu immigrants in Assam may prove to be a suicidal step of the NDA government.

Pointing out that religious prosecution was no longer a problem in Bangladesh, Mr Mahanta, who was in Dhaka recently to attend the 20th triennial conference of the Bangladesh Awami League, also clarified that his opposition to the amendment of the Bill was not an anti-Bengali stand.

“The AGP’s demand and agenda has been the same — to implement the Assam Accord for the safety and security of indigenous people,” said Mr Mahanta.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, tabled in Parliament in August, seeks to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India. The Bill has been referred to the joint select committee after the Opposition raised objection to it. “Even states like Tripura and West Bengal have opposed the Bill and said no more foreigners will be allowed. These are Bengali majority states. Yet they opposed it. I have been opposing this Bill to defend our identity and culture,” said Mr Mahanta, pointing out that there is a section, which claims that the AGP is against Bengali people but it’s not the reality. Mr Mahanta said that now onus is on Assam CM Sarbanada Sonowal to ensure that the Assam Accord is implemented to provide constitutional safeguard to indigenous people.

He also regretted that the Centre has not formally informed the Bangladesh government about the infiltration problem.

He asserted that the Assam Accord that clearly states 1971 as the cutoff year for detection of all illegal foreigners, whether Hindu or Muslim, must be implemented in letter and spirit.

Though, Assam BJP accused him of creating confusion, Mr Mahanta accused the alliance partner BJP and the Congress of playing politics for vote bank.