GUWAHATI, Feb 16 - Notwithstanding its failure to secure passage of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 in the Rajya Sabha, the ruling BJP is likely to make the ‘aborted’ legislation a poll issue in the forthcoming General Elections.
Sources in the State BJP told The Assam Tribune that despite the massive protests witnessed in recent times against the Bill in the entire North East, the party is confident of performing well in this region during the Lok Sabha polls.
“Development will be our major poll plank. The welfare schemes of the Narendra Modi-led Central government and the Sarbananda Sonowal-led State government have benefitted a large chunk of the people on the ground, irrespective of their political affiliations. So, we will approach the masses with development as our major agenda and we are confident of very good response from the voters,” a senior BJP office-bearer said.
Asked if the party will refrain from raising the issue of the Bill during its poll campaign in Assam, he said, “on the contrary, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 will also be a part of our poll campaign. The issue of granting citizenship to the persecuted people from neighbouring countries is a commitment for us.
We won the panchayat election and also polls to four autonomous councils in Assam quite comprehensively during recent months despite all the negative campaigning against us by various organisations on the issue of the Bill. Similar will be the case as far as the Lok Sabha polls are concerned.”
BJP leaders exuded confidence that the Centre’s decision to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six communities of the State, including the Ahoms and Koch Rajbongshis, will help the saffron party in gaining support during the Lok Sabha polls.
“Besides, we have shown our commitment to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which is a very crucial matter for people of the State. Other measures like 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) will also create an electoral advantage for us,” said a senior BJP leader.
Sources in the saffron party added that the prevalent view among BJP cadres in the State is against any attempt for rapprochement with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
AGP had snapped ties with the BJP in early January over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 and all three members of the regional party in the Sonowal government had resigned from the ministry. However, the Chief Minister has yet to forward the said resignations to the Governor.
“AGP has no base left. They (AGP) fought the panchayat polls solo and ended up losing even in constituencies like Bokakhat, Kaliabor and Barhampur which are currently represented by their own MLAs. So, what is the use of trying to mend fences with the AGP and leave aside a few seats for the regional party in the Lok Sabha polls? Our cadres never even wanted an alliance with the AGP in the first place. But we accepted such an arrangement in the run-up to the 2016 Assembly polls for the sake of the indigenous people of Assam and to fight for our culture, heritage and political rights,” a BJP leader said.