AGP ministers clarify stand on Citizenship Bill, say they opposed bill in cabinet

Assam cabinet ministers from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Saturday said that they will not wait till June 30 for publication of National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft but continue their agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The AGP leaders were supposed to move a resolution in the state cabinet against the bill on Friday, but failed to do so. Following this, the AGP leaders and ministers came under heavy criticism. AGP president Atul Bora said that they are not at all convinced at the attitude of the Centre though the chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been able to convince them.

Atul Bora said that they have faith on Sonowal that nothing will be done which might harm the interest of the state and its people.

“Here I’m telling you all that we discussed at least 30 minutes about the bill in the cabinet yesterday (Friday). We even went to the extent that if the bill is passed, we won’t be able to stay in the government. But we were asked not to disclose all the inside story to the public and as a disciplined member of the cabinet, we didn’t reveal much,” Bora told reporters at the party headquarters in Guwahati on Saturday.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in the parliament in 2016, seeks to grant citizenship to the non-Muslim migrants from the neighbouring countries. The bill, however, has been sent to joint parliamentary committee for review.

AGP, in spite of being an ally of the ruling BJP in the state, has been opposing the bill. AGP and other political parties besides most of the organizations have been supporting the cut-off date of March 25, 1971 for detecting the illegal citizens.

“Sonowal has been a former AASU (All Assam Students’ Union) leader and he knows what is best for the people of the state. We believe that he (Sonowal) will not do something which will harm the people of the state. Though they want us to wait till the NRC draft is published on June 30, but we will not do so. It doesn’t matter to us. We will continue our agitation against the bill,” added Bora.

AGP has already announced a series of fresh agitations across the state. And they have been continuing a signature campaign against the bill.

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