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AICC directs State Cong to oppose Bill
KALYAN BAROOAH
 NEW DELHI, May 15 - Division within the Assam Congress over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, led the AICC to intervene, as it decided to oppose the Bill and support 1971 as the cut-off date as agreed in the Assam Accord.

The two factions of the Congress representing the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys on Tuesday agreed to a truce brokered by the AICC. The two factions in the end arrived at a consensus to take a united stand on the Bill and follow the directions of the AICC, in this regard.

A crucial meeting of the AICC with Assam leaders was held here this afternoon in which leaders of both factions were asked to be present. The meeting chaired by AICC general secretary in-charge for Assam, Dr C P Joshi was attended by president of the State unit Ripun Bora, Debabrata Saikia, Lok Sabha MPs Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Dev, Kamalakhya Dev Purkayastha and Siddque Ahmed among others.

Emerging from the meeting, Bora said that the AICC has issued a gag order on speaking out of turn and making controversial statements. He said that the Party has decided to take a united stand on the issue and whatever stand the AICC takes on the Bill will be acceptable to all.

The State president said that the Congress will oppose the Bill and will support the Assam Accord, which was signed by late Rajiv Gandhi. “The cut-off date of 1971 is acceptable to us,” Bora said.

Purkayastha also said that they were in agreement with the decision taken at the meeting today and will abide by AICC’s direction.

The Assam Congress landed in a controversy, when the State unit in Brahmaputra Valley opposed the Bill and the Barak Valley unit submitted a memorandum to the JPC supporting the Bill.

Congress leader Gautam Roy had stressed on supporting the bill on humanitarian grounds, but said the entire country should take the responsibility of those granted citizenship by the Bill, not Assam alone.

Ajit Singh, a former minister in the Tarun Gogoi government along with district Congress leaders, said the 2014 voter list should be considered as the base for granting citizenship.

“This will not go against the Assam Accord, because the voter list was prepared under the accord. Everyone had accepted it and many elections have been conducted on the basis of it,” he added.

On the other hand, former Congress Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had said that the party opposed the Bill “tooth and nail”.

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