Fissures within Assam BJP over Citizenship Bill widen

GUWAHATI: Two more BJP legislators from Assam on Wednesday joined the ranks of those within the party who have spoken out against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. “A foreigner is a foreigner. Religion cannot be the basis on which a section of foreigners can be granted citizenship. I cannot accept the Bill,” BJP MLA from Bihpuria Debananda Hazarika said. He added that no migrant, irrespective of religion, should be granted citizenship. Bringing up what opponents of the Bill have said time and again, he said, “National Register of Citizens is being updated to detect illegal migrants. The Bill will not allow that to happen.”

Another BJP legislator, Atul Bora, who represents Dispur in the Assam assembly reiterated his stand against the Bill. “My stand on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is clear … My party may have a different stand on the Bill, but I maintain mine. Our CM (Sarbananda Sonowal) should take a cue from the Meghalaya government,” Bora said. The Meghalaya government was the first in the northeast to pass a resolution against the Bill, which proposes citizenship for religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Bora had earlier made no bones about his opposition to the Bill, saying the proposed legislation is antithesis to the saffron party’s promise to safeguard ‘Jati, Mati, Bheti (identity, land and homeland)’ of the indigenous people. Earlier this week, BJP’s Lahowal legislator Rituparna Baruah and Sootea legislator Padma Hazarika also spoke out against the Bill. While Baruah said the Bill would legitimise illegal migrants, the Sootea legislator said he supported Assam Accord’s March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of foreigners.

A day after Lok Sabha passed the Bill on January 8, assembly speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami had said the passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha was done in “haste” without taking the indigenous people of Assam into confidence.

Source: Times of India


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