BJP firm on Citizenship Bill, AASU vows to oppose move



The issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has gained momentum in Assam once again after the BJP's election manifesto released on Monday vowed to pass the controversial bill in both Houses of Parliament.

Although the undercurrent has always been there in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the issue fell somewhat silent after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government failed to get the Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha earlier this year.

The BJP, however, have been clearly stating that the Bill will be passed once the party comes to power after the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, on the other hand, is fighting the forthcoming Lok Sabah elections in Assam promising to scrap the bill.

With the BJP's poll manifesto including the Citizenship Bill, organisations like the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) reiterated its opposition to the Bill and said that any move to bring the bill back would be firmly resisted.

Hundreds of organisations across the northeastern states including the North East Students' Organisation (NESO) have organised series of protests against the Bill in different parts of the region. Different civil society organisations and individuals have also rallied behind these students' bodies opposing the Bill, which proposes to make minority communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.

"The bill is a threat to the culture and identity of indigenous people of Northeast India. We have resisted the bill in past and will stoutly do so in future. The bill is also communal and against the Constitution of India. We will not accept the bill. We will intensify our agitation once again," said Aasu adviser Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharyya while talking to IANS on Monday.

"The BJP's decision to bring the controversial Bill back shows the party's respect for the people of the Northeast. The party has seen the agitation against the Bill in the region and yet they have decided to bring it back," said Aasu General secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi.

The opposition Congress has made the Bill one of its main poll planks in the Northeast. The party has been highlighting how they have resisted the Bill and claimed that it is due to their pressure that the BJP failed to pass the Bill in Rajya Sabha.

On April 3, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that his party would ensure that Citizenship Amendment Bill is never passed. The Bill is an assault on the language, culture and tradition of Northeast India, he added. - IANS