GUWAHATI, Aug 18 - Voters of Assam have given a mandate in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, said former Congress leader and new entrant to the BJP, Bhubaneswar Kalita.
Addressing a press conference at the State BJP head office here today, Kalita claimed that India has achieved significant progress during the past five years under the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and added that he would serve in whatever responsibility assigned to him by the ruling party.
Asked what his views are with regard to the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) now, as he has joined the BJP, Kalita said, “CAB is not there at present. So it is better not to talk about it. But if CAB was in the manifesto of the BJP and if we look at the outcome of the recent Lok Sabha polls, then we can say that people of Assam have accepted it. So, I think there is no need to raise this matter again.”
It is noteworthy that Kalita, as the chief whip of the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha, had earlier this year played a leading role in ensuring that the CAB was not passed in the Upper House of Parliament.
To another question if he is likely to be fielded as a candidate by the BJP for the Rajya Sabha, Kalita said, “I have joined the BJP as a cadre of the party embracing its ideals and policies. Congress is now left only with leaders. There are no workers left in the Congress party now. However, in the BJP everybody, from the Prime Minister down to the booth-level worker, is an ordinary cadre of the party.”
Kalita had resigned from the Rajya Sabha earlier this month in protest against the Congress party’s stand on the issue of abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He later joined the BJP in New Delhi.
Kalita said the country has made tremendous progress in all sectors since the NDA regime first came to power in 2014.
“Even the opposition had many times given support to the government on various issues. Earlier, discussions and debates used to take place within the Congress on important issues. However, when the government brought the Bill to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution, there was no discussion in the Congress Working Committee or the Congress Parliamentary Party. Those who were in favour of scrapping the special provisions were not allowed to have their say,” Kalita said, elaborating on the reasons for his decision to quit the Congress with which he was associated for over four decades.
“After scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A, people of Jammu and Kashmir will now be able to enjoy equal rights and status at par with the citizens of other parts of the country. Only Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP have been able to show courage and leadership on this issue,” Kalita said.
Speaking on the occasion, State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said that the party has been able to enrol over 15 lakh new members during the course of the ongoing membership drive.
“We welcome Kalita into the BJP on behalf of the State unit and we hope that he will serve the party and the country to the best of his abilities in the coming days,” said Dass.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that in BJP all members serve in whatever responsibility assigned to him or her.
“Kalita’s political and parliamentary experience will be an asset to the party,” Sarma said.
Rameswar Teli, Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, claimed that many other senior opposition leaders are also in touch with the BJP and have expressed their desire to join the ruling party.