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Citizenship Bill comes in way of BJP-AGP alliance

By R Dutta Choudhury
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GUWAHATI, Dec 27 - The alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) was formed without finalising a common minimum programme which is yet to be formulated even after more than one and half years of the alliance government. Now, the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which aims to provide citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshi migrants among others, has put a question mark over the future of the alliance as both parties have serious difference of opinion on the Bill.

The regional party has already threatened to pull out of the alliance if the Bill is passed in the Parliament, while it is also trying to gather support of other political parties to oppose the Bill in the House. The AGP has also announced that it is ready to launch a movement against the Bill and if required, the party may also think of moving the court against the Bill.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, AGP general secretary Dr Kamala Kalita admitted that the alliance between the BJP and AGP was formed without a common minimum programme. But at the same time, he said that the AGP had made it clear before forging the alliance that it would not compromise on certain issues concerning the people of the State, including implementation of the Assam Accord.

He said that the AGP wanted the Central government headed by the BJP to implement the Accord within a specific time-frame, besides sealing the international border and declaring flood as a national problem. The AGP also raised its opposition to construction of big dams in the region and handing over of Assam�s land to Bangladesh before forging the alliance.

Kalita asserted that the proposal for the alliance came from the BJP and there were differences of opinion among the AGP members on the issue. �But in the interest of ousting the Congress from power and taking into consideration the views of the people of Assam, the AGP decided to form an alliance with the BJP,� he said.

In the initial rounds of meetings, the AGP was represented by its working president Keshab Mahanta and Kalita himself, while the BJP was represented by its national general secretary Ram Madhab and Himanta Biswa Sarma. After a series of meetings at various levels, the alliance was finally forged in the residence of BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi. Though the AGP had submitted its points of view on various issues, no common minimum programme was finalised at the time of forging the alliance.

There were discussions among the AGP and BJP to come up with a common election manifesto before the Assembly polls, but both the parties failed to come into agreement on some issues, forcing the parties to contest the elections with separate manifestos. Even after formation of the government, the parties failed to formulate the common minimum programme.

Of late, the differences between the AGP and BJP widened over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, but there have also been other issues on which the parties have major differences. Kalita admitted that the BJP made a U-turn on some major issues. Senior BJP leaders opposed the UPA government�s move to hand over Assam�s land to Bangladesh and they even hoisted the National Flag along the international border to oppose the move. But after coming to power, the BJP-led government made a U-turn and handed over Assam�s land to Bangladesh, Kalita said.

On the other hand, senior BJP leaders had visited the site of the Subansiri dam project to join the movement against the project, but now the BJP-led government is supporting the project, he added.

Kalita further said that some parties were trying to term the AGP as �anti-Bengali� and clarified that the regional party is not against any community but the party is firm in its commitment that all the foreigners, who came to Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971 should be detected and deported as per the provisions of the Assam Accord irrespective of their religion.

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Citizenship Bill comes in way of BJP-AGP alliance

GUWAHATI, Dec 27 - The alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) was formed without finalising a common minimum programme which is yet to be formulated even after more than one and half years of the alliance government. Now, the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which aims to provide citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshi migrants among others, has put a question mark over the future of the alliance as both parties have serious difference of opinion on the Bill.

The regional party has already threatened to pull out of the alliance if the Bill is passed in the Parliament, while it is also trying to gather support of other political parties to oppose the Bill in the House. The AGP has also announced that it is ready to launch a movement against the Bill and if required, the party may also think of moving the court against the Bill.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, AGP general secretary Dr Kamala Kalita admitted that the alliance between the BJP and AGP was formed without a common minimum programme. But at the same time, he said that the AGP had made it clear before forging the alliance that it would not compromise on certain issues concerning the people of the State, including implementation of the Assam Accord.

He said that the AGP wanted the Central government headed by the BJP to implement the Accord within a specific time-frame, besides sealing the international border and declaring flood as a national problem. The AGP also raised its opposition to construction of big dams in the region and handing over of Assam�s land to Bangladesh before forging the alliance.

Kalita asserted that the proposal for the alliance came from the BJP and there were differences of opinion among the AGP members on the issue. �But in the interest of ousting the Congress from power and taking into consideration the views of the people of Assam, the AGP decided to form an alliance with the BJP,� he said.

In the initial rounds of meetings, the AGP was represented by its working president Keshab Mahanta and Kalita himself, while the BJP was represented by its national general secretary Ram Madhab and Himanta Biswa Sarma. After a series of meetings at various levels, the alliance was finally forged in the residence of BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi. Though the AGP had submitted its points of view on various issues, no common minimum programme was finalised at the time of forging the alliance.

There were discussions among the AGP and BJP to come up with a common election manifesto before the Assembly polls, but both the parties failed to come into agreement on some issues, forcing the parties to contest the elections with separate manifestos. Even after formation of the government, the parties failed to formulate the common minimum programme.

Of late, the differences between the AGP and BJP widened over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, but there have also been other issues on which the parties have major differences. Kalita admitted that the BJP made a U-turn on some major issues. Senior BJP leaders opposed the UPA government�s move to hand over Assam�s land to Bangladesh and they even hoisted the National Flag along the international border to oppose the move. But after coming to power, the BJP-led government made a U-turn and handed over Assam�s land to Bangladesh, Kalita said.

On the other hand, senior BJP leaders had visited the site of the Subansiri dam project to join the movement against the project, but now the BJP-led government is supporting the project, he added.

Kalita further said that some parties were trying to term the AGP as �anti-Bengali� and clarified that the regional party is not against any community but the party is firm in its commitment that all the foreigners, who came to Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971 should be detected and deported as per the provisions of the Assam Accord irrespective of their religion.