GUWAHATI, June 2 - Facing protests and condemnation for not raising the issue of repealing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the State Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) today took a U-turn over the matter clarifying that the issue was taken up in the Cabinet meeting and was discussed for a good half-an-hour.
AGP president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora told reporters here that the matter was not completely disclosed to the media honouring a request from Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and also to maintain the secrecy of a Cabinet meeting, which led to a confusing situation putting the regional party in bad light.
The party, ahead of the Cabinet meeting, had made it clear that it was going to take up the issue during the Cabinet sitting. However, after the meeting on Friday evening, Atul Bora told mediapersons that the Chief Minister discussed the issue separately with the three AGP ministers ahead of the Cabinet meet and assured them that the matter would soon be discussed in the coordination committee meeting of the coalition partners.
�The issue was brought up in the Cabinet meeting yesterday and despite objections from several other members of the State Cabinet, was discussed for almost half an hour, where we made it clear that if the Bill is passed, we would walk out of the government.
�Some of the Cabinet members also said that their party would announce its stand over the issue only after June 30, when second and final draft of the NRC is published. As the difference of opinion deepened, the Chief Minister himself intervened and assured us that the government was very serious over the issue and in no condition would compromise the interest of the people of Assam,� Bora said.
Asked about Transport and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary�s comments that the issue was not raised in the Cabinet meeting at all, Bora said that it was this comment that led to a confusing situation.
�We have had to divulge the details of the Cabinet meeting today, because of some unwarranted statements from other ministers after the meeting,� he added.
The AGP, however, also made it clear that it won�t wait until June 30 and would continue with its protest activities starting from next week.
�For us, the NRC update and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill are two different issues. Whatever comes out on June 30, we would continue opposing the proposed legislation. We won�t accept the violation of the Assam Accord at any cost,� AGP leader and Science and Technology Minister Keshab Mahanta said.