GUWAHATI, April 16 - The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has been projecting the roles played by its lawmakers in Parliament in resisting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2016, to draw the support of the indigenous peoples of the State. The Congress activists are of the opinion that there is an undercurrent of anti-CAB sentiment among the indigenous peoples of the State.
APCC sources claim that the response of the indigenous peoples to the Congress is overwhelming this time. It is widely believed that the indigenous peoples of the State view the CAB as a highly pernicious draft of law for their societies. If Parliament passes it as legislation, the very existence of the indigenous peoples of the State would be threatened, goes the belief.
However, the ruling BJP has dismissed this claim of the Congress on the issue as utterly baseless.
APCC general secretary Dhiren Nath told this newspaper that they believe that the indigenous peoples have accepted their explanations on the CAB issue and the roles played by their party lawmakers in Parliament to resist its enactment.
Meanwhile, major chunks of the indigenous peoples who were till the other day the supporters of both the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and BJP have sided with the Congress, stating that they would vote for the anti-CAB parties. Due to this sentiment, many AGP leaders and workers have joined the Congress at different places of the State, said the APCC general secretary.
Moreover, he said voters among the indigenous peoples are also looking into the efficiency, track records, academic qualifications, etc., of the candidates. In this respect also, the Congress is in an advantageous position as its candidates are found to be more acceptable to these voters.
However, when contacted, State BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass pooh-poohed the Congress’ claim. He argued that the indigenous peoples of the State voted for the BJP and its alliance partners during the elections to the Mising, Rabha, Dimasa and Sonowal Kachari autonomous councils and the Panchayati Raj Institutions, at a time when the anti-CAB agitation was at its peak.
The very approach of the BJP on the CAB issue is also misinterpreted. The provisions incorporated in the CAB are there in the country’s laws since the 1955 Citizenship Act. With the CAB, the BJP is for sealing once for all the prospect of granting citizenship to the illegal migrants beyond the cut-off date of December 31, 2014.
As the CAB has been reduced into a piece of waste paper now, the BJP, if voted to power at the Centre, will prepare a new Bill taking all sections of the country’s citizens into confidence for the purpose of settling the migration-linked citizenship issue. Without a consensus, it will not go for any decision on the issue, Dass added.