R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, April 13 - The Congress is of the view that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has become a major issue for the Lok Sabha polls in the State, while the BJP and the AGP have claimed that the issue would not have much impact on the ground. However, at the same time, the AGP has clarified that despite having an alliance with the BJP, the regional party has not changed its stand on the Bill.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a major issue for the polls as the people of Assam have strongly opposed the Bill. He said that the Congress, in its manifesto, has also made its stand clear on the Bill and due to the strong stand taken by the Congress, the Government failed to move it in the last session of the Rajya Sabha. The Congress never supports the idea of giving citizenship to foreigners on the basis of religion, he added.
On the issue of foreigners, Bora asserted that the Congress is committed to implementing the Assam Accord and during the Congress rule in the State, the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) began, taking the Accord as the basis. When asked why the Government failed to seal the international border during the Congress regime, he said that delay in settling the boundary dispute with Bangladesh delayed the process.
AGP president Atul Bora said that the issue of the Bill would not have much impact on the outcome of the elections. However, at the same time, he said that the AGP’s stand on the Bill has not changed, and that the regional party would continue to oppose it. He pointed out that in its election manifesto too, the AGP made its stand clear against the Bill.
Bora said that before deciding to resume the alliance with the BJP, the AGP had discussed the issue with the BJP leaders. “We made our stand clear to the BJP leaders and it was decided that the issue would be settled later through discussions and efforts would be made to arrive at a consensus,” he added.
BJP State unit spokesman Rupam Goswami, on the other hand, claimed that the issue of the Bill would not have any impact on the outcome of the elections. He pointed out that the BJP managed to do well in the last Panchayat elections when the agitation against the Bill was at its peak. However, at the same time, he said that the BJP had already made it clear that there would be a detailed discussion on the Bill with all the stakeholders.