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More ally trouble for BJP: AGP walks out of govt over Citizenship Bill

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New Delhi, Jan 7: The ally trouble for the BJP continued with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Monday deciding to break ties with the saffron party over the Citizenship Bill. The AGP had earlier expressed reservations with the Bill saying it would make the Assam Accord meaningless.

Asom Gana Parishad

Former chief minster of Assam, Prafulla Mahanta said that the party was walking out of the government over the contentious issue.

"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues. The Government of India by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament has violated the understanding," it had said in a letter.

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AGP president Atul Bora had last month written to BJP chief Amit Shah, saying the party will have no alternative but to "repudiate the existing alliance" in case of such an eventuality.

The letter, whose copy was given by Bora to reporters at a press conference on December 10, stated that the AGP is fully committed to the implementation of the Assam Accord of 1985.

The draft National Register of Citizens (NCR) of the state had been prepared in accordance with the Accord.

The AGP has been opposing the Citizenship Bill, saying if it is passed, the NRC exercise in the state would be of no use. The party had also taken out a rally against the bill in October.

"We are to bring to your notice that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed in Parliament, the provisions of Assam Accord and the ongoing preparation of National Register of Citizens will be totally frustrated and the Assamese language, culture and demography will be changed," the letter signed by Bora said.

"Hence, if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is intended to be passed in the Parliament we will have no other alternative except to repudiate the existing alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party," it stated.

"It is pertinent to mention herein that the Asom Gana Parishad is fully committed to the implementation of the provisions of the Assam Accord and hence we can never support the obnoxious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016," the AGP said in the letter.

Bora, along with Kesab Mahanta, the AGP working president, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the party are ministers in the BJP-led government in Assam.

The letter to Shah, which was also signed by Mahanta, said, "It is reliably learnt that the Citizenship(Amendment) Bill, 2016, in spite of our protest, including the protests resorted to by various organisations of indigenous people of Assam before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, is to be placed before Parliament."

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It referred to the understanding arrived at prior to the Assam Assembly election, 2016, and said the AGP had decided to go for the alliance during a discussion with the BJP in New Delhi on "the basis of clear understanding of the Assam Accord, other major issues of Assam, including the seat adjustments".

As a result of the alliance between the BJP and AGP, the 2016 Assam Assembly election was fought and the new government of the alliance led by the BJP was installed in the state, the letter said.

But the understanding between the two parties was "violated" by the Centre, by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Parliament as well as by promulgating the ordinances on the subject, it stated

"Further, the Assam Accord is also intended to be made meaningless," the letter alleged.

The AGP leaders hoped that Amit Shah's "good office" would certainly take necessary steps so that the bill is not placed in Parliament at any point of time.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014 after six years of residence in this country.

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