NEW DELHI, June 13 - Maintaining its tough stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Wednesday said that it would continue with its struggle against the Bill until the Central government takes a concrete step to scrap it.The AGP Legislative Party led by its president Atul Bora today called on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted a memorandum opposing the Bill. The delegation also included State Ministers Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhusan Choudhury.
Briefing newsmen here today, Bora stated that they have noticed a change in the attitude of the BJP Central leaders towards the Bill.
“Yesterday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh conveyed that before taking a final call on the Bill, the people of Assam will be taken into confidence,” he said.
In their meeting with the President, Bora said they conveyed to him that the Assam Accord will become defunct if the Bill is passed. If that happens, the identity and language of the people of Assam would be under threat, he said, adding that the President gave them a patient hearing.
Meanwhile, the AGP leaders said the international border with Bangladesh will be sealed by December and two separate committees will be formed to expedite the implementation of the Clause 6 and 7 of the Assam Accord. The previous governments, too, had set up such committees, but not much progress had been made, they said.
“Yesterday, Singh also assured us that effective steps will be taken for Constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people,” the AGP leaders said.
Replying to a question, Bora and Mahanta said that the AGP became a part of the ruling alliance with BJP on the condition of the Assam Accord implementation. “We will, therefore, not accept the Bill under any circumstances,” asserted the AGP leaders.
“The BJP Central leadership, including the Union Home Minister, has understood our stand that we will not keep silent until the Bill is scrapped,” they said.
Asked whether they proposed to take up the matter again in the State Cabinet meeting, Bora said the party has not taken a decision yet.
The regional party had drawn flak when a State Minister told media that the issue of the Bill was not discussed in the Cabinet meeting. Later it emerged that the matter was taken up by the AGP Ministers with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ahead of the Cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, the AGP MLAs also dismissed reports of the regional party opting for an alternate government, as proposed by the Assam Congress. Yesterday, leaders of both AGP and Congress greeted each other rather warmly, when they came face to face at the North Block, where they had gone to meet the Union Home Minister.
When asked about the Congress’ allegation of anomalies in the NRC updating exercise, Bora said their party has not noticed any such irregularity in the updating process, which is being monitored by the Supreme Court.
“Our government employees are involved in the updating exercise and they have not pointed out any such anomaly,” said Bora.
The AGP leaders alleged that the Congress is sharply divided on the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Assam. “The Congress should express their views before the Central government. We expect the Congress to take a proactive stand,” said Bora.