Asom Gana Parishad Pulls out of BJP-Led Alliance Over Citizenship Bill

The party made a last ditch attempt to convince the Centre not to pass the Bill but was told it would be passed in the Lok Sabha.

Guwahati: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Monday withdrew its support to the ruling BJP in Assam over the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The decision followed an AGP delegation’s meeting with Union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, who asserted that the government will ensure its passage in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, AGP president and minister Atul Bora said.

“We made a last ditch attempt today to convince the Centre not to pass the Bill. But Singh told us clearly that it will be passed in Lok Sabha tomorrow. After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance,” Bora said in New Delhi after meeting the home minister.

Also Read: Why Some Regions Are Angrier Than Others Over India’s New Citizenship Law

The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s statement here that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed by Lok Sabha.

The Bill seeks to amend Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian nationality to people from minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any proper documentation.

The Bill has been opposed by a large section of people and organisations.

The Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI (M) and a few other parties have been steadfastly opposing the Bill, claiming that citizenship can’t be given on the basis of religion and that it is unconstitutional.

During the 2016 state elections, the AGP allied with the BJP. While the BJP won 61 of the 126 assembly seats, the AGP got 14. With the Bodo People’s Front, another ally, winning 12 the BJP was able to form the government with 87 legislators, which is well above the half-way mark of 63.

Despite the AGP withdrawing its support for the government, the government will still have a majority.

(With PTI inputs)