GUWAHATI, Nov 22 - Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today castigated the present leadership of NDA constituent AGP over their silence on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB.
Addressing a press conference, Mahanta, without naming the AGP, alleged that a section of �regional party leaders have surrendered before the BJP government which has conspired to negate the Assam Accord.�
Mahanta, who was a signatory to the historic Assam Accord, said, �As a partner in the present BJP-led State government, these regional party leaders have turned a blind eye to the anti-Assamese conspiracy by the BJP and are beating about the bush to defend the indefensible and destroy the Assamese culture, language and heritage.�
He said that the ordinary workers of the AGP are opposed to the CAB. �None of the grassroots workers of the regional party have endorsed the conspiracy of the leaders who have no scruples in pushing the Assamese community to its gravest days just for the sake of fulfilling their narrow political interest and in return for a few ministerial positions and chairmanship of corporations,� said the former Chief Minister.
Mahanta appealed to the leadership of all the regional forces in the State to �side with the people of Assam, who made great sacrifices during the Assam Agitation.�
Without taking names, he reminded the leaders of AGP about their stand taken earlier this year when the regional party had snapped ties with the BJP and its ministers had resigned from the State ministry.
�The regional leaders, who are not hesitating to betray the people of Assam, should do well to realise that the Assamese people vehemently oppose the CAB,� Mahanta said.
He said that there is a lack of inner-party democracy in the AGP and cited several instances where office-bearers were removed from their posts and party members suspended for publicly opposing the CAB.
Mahanta said that he has been opposing the CAB since its inception. �CAB will violate the provisions of the Assam Accord and take away the rights of the indigenous people of the State. Even the forum of religious minorities in Bangladesh has opposed it. We request all sections in Assam to come forward to protest against the proposed legislation,� said Mahanta, who is also the chief adviser to the Asom Andolan Sangrami Mancha.
To a question regarding the stand of the AGP leadership, Mahanta said, �AGP had taken a decision to oppose the CAB. I do not know why they (the current leadership) are silent. We want them to come out and oppose the CAB. We have a duty to oppose the CAB. The AGP, as an alliance partner of the BJP and with members in the State ministry, should oppose the Bill.�
He also called upon the State BJP unit to come out against the CAB.
Asked if he believes that the AGP would ultimately raise its voice against the CAB, Mahanta said, �AGP will oppose. But I do not know if the party�s leaders will.�
He added that the leadership of the regional party has not contacted him on the issue.
Mahanta refuted the argument made by some that BJP�s victory in the Lok Sabha polls means that people of Assam have given a verdict in favour of the CAB. �That is a lie. Nobody contested the Lok Sabha elections seeking vote in favour or against the CAB. So how can the election results be termed a referendum on the issue?� the veteran leader questioned.
Mahanta said that he was not invited to the foundation day of the Asom Chatra Parishad (ACP), the new student wing of the AGP. The student wing was formally launched here on Thursday.
�I was not invited. I would not have gone even if I had been invited. I believe that the AASU�s organisational matters should be strengthened for the sake of Assam�s national life,� he said.
Mahanta added that the issue of launching a student wing of the regional party was considered during his tenure as AGP president. �The issue was discussed many times. We decided against it. We never wanted any conflict with AASU. I never went against AASU even when the student body showed black flags to me,� he said.
He also discounted the possibility that launch of a students� wing would help the AGP strengthen its base. �Congress, CPI and CPI(M)... all have their student wings. Has that helped?� Mahanta quipped.