GUWAHATI, Aug 17 � President Pranab Mukherjee�s remark on the need for �revisiting the Assam Accord to adapt it to present day conditions� on the eve of the Independence Day evoked sharp reactions in Assam and the All Assam Students� Union (AASU), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have demanded that instead of talking of amending the Accord, the President should have laid stress on implementing the Accord not only to safeguard the identity of the indigenous people of Assam, but also to protect the sovereignty of the country.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who is one of the signatories of the Assam Accord, said that the Union Home Ministry is the nodal Ministry for the implementation of the Accord, but it failed to play its part. He said that the situation in Assam has become much more complicated because of the failure of the Home Ministry to implement the Accord and the recent violence in the BTAD area is a result of the failure to implement the Accord. He said that the Government of India must take the people of Assam, particularly the AASU, into confidence before taking any decision to amend the Accord.
AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the Government of India should make it clear whether it wants to protect the sovereignty of the nation or indulge in vote bank politics. He said that the President and Prime Minister issued contradictory statements on the Accord. On one hand, the President stressed the need for �revisiting� the Accord, while, the Prime Minister assured that the Government is committed to implementing the same. The Government of India should make its stand clear on the issue, while Pranab Mukherjee should realize that there is a part of India beyond his home State West Bengal.
Bhattacharya said that the statement of the Constitutional head of the state did not reflect the spirit of the Supreme Court verdict on the issue of infiltration of foreigners to Assam. Instead of �revisiting the accord,� there is need for a time-bound programme for implementing all the clauses of the Accord not only to protect the identity of the indigenous people of Assam, but also to safeguard the interests of the country. He also said that Assam has taken the burden of foreigners who entered the State up to March 25, 1971 and the State would not be able to take more burden. That is why the AASU would never accept any amendment of the Accord, he added. However, at the same time, he admitted that the statement of the President lacked transparency as he failed to clarify how the Government was planning to revisit the Accord.
Spokesman of the State unit of the BJP Sarbananda Sonowal demanded that the President should withdraw his statement as the people of Assam would never accept amendment of the Assam Accord. He said that both Houses of the Parliament accepted the Accord immediately after it was signed and the sacrifices of the people of Assam should not be forgotten by anyone. He said that the President should have laid stress on the implementation of the Accord as the unabated infiltration of foreigners posed a threat to the sovereignty of the country.