GUWAHATI, March 15 - The BJP and the AGP will refrain from speaking on the issue of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, during the campaign for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, even as leaders of the various NDA constituents in Assam will issue a �common statement� outlining their vision, and also conduct joint meetings across the State in the run-up to the polls.
This was stated by State Finance Minister and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma here today after a meeting among senior leaders of the Assam BJP unit and the top AGP leadership held at the State head office of the saffron party.
Sarma also said that the seat-sharing formula between the BJP and the AGP for the Lok Sabha would be announced tomorrow in New Delhi after a meeting between a delegation of AGP leaders and BJP president Amit Shah.
To a query on the likelihood of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB being raised by the alliance partners during the poll campaign, Sarma said, �For us the main issue is who will be the next Prime Minister. Our agenda is to ensure that Narendra Modi returns as the Prime Minister for another term and also to ensure development of Assam.�
He added: �As far as the BJP is concerned, we remain committed to the CAB� At the same time, the AGP has also not diluted its stand. The BJP vision document will mention that we are committed to the CAB. But we will stress on creating consensus on the issue. We will hold talks with the AGP on the CAB after the Lok Sabha polls. During campaigning, we will highlight the points on which we agree and are united, rather than publicising the points where we differ.� Sarma added that being the NEDA convener, he was speaking on behalf of both the BJP and the AGP.
On the likelihood of a joint manifesto by the alliance partners, Sarma said, �There will be a common statement by the leaders of all the parties.� It will be signed by State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, AGP president Atul Bora, BPF supremo Hagrama Mohilary, besides leaders of the Rabha Hasong Joutha Sangram Samiti, Tiwa Jatiya Aikya Mancha and Sanmilita Ganashakti. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will also be present on the occasion and all the leaders will address a joint press conference after putting their signatures on the document.
�After (formation of) this alliance, we now hope to win all the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam,� claimed Sarma.
He said that senior AGP leaders would hold a meeting with Shah at the national capital tomorrow to discuss seat sharing and other matters. This will be followed by a meeting of all NEDA constituents with Shah on March 17.
Sarma said that the �political friendship� among all NEDA constituents would remain intact in the parliamentary polls, even though they may not have formal seat-sharing arrangements in all the NE States.
The ruling alliance�s constituents in Assam will also hold joint political meetings across all 14 Lok Sabha constituencies over the next few days.
AGP president Atul Bora said that his party has already made its stand on the CAB clear before the public. He added that this is not the first time that an alliance has taken place between the AGP and the BJP.
�The first alliance was in 2001. Then there was an alliance in 2009 and again in the run-up to the 2016 Assembly polls. So this (alliance between the two parties) is not a new thing,� he said.
Bora said that some issue-based differences had cropped up between the two parties but exuded confidence that those would be sorted out.
�We will fight the coming polls on a common ground. I request all the AGP members to ensure that there is proper transfer of votes to the BJP candidates to defeat the Congress and also request the same from the BJP cadres for the AGP candidates,� said Bora. He maintained that the AGP has renewed its alliance with the BJP in greater interest of the State.
�India has witnessed a lot of progress since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister in 2014. Earlier, Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and he did nothing for Assam despite being elected to the Rajya Sabha from the State,� said the AGP president.
State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass said that the meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board would be held tomorrow in New Delhi where the list of the party candidates is expected to be finalised.