Abandon Citizenship Bill, northeast BJP units tell Delhi

Opposition comes ahead of govt. push to get Bill passed in budget session

January 31, 2019 09:49 pm | Updated 09:49 pm IST - New Delhi

Activists of All Assam Students’ Union participate in a candle light march in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati on January 31, 2019.

Activists of All Assam Students’ Union participate in a candle light march in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati on January 31, 2019.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) units in the northeast have conveyed to the party leadership, in an internal meeting, that they are opposed to the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

A senior BJP functionary from the northeast said on Thursday that the “adamant attitude of one man will take down the BJP in northeast.”

BJP President Amit Shah has been vociferously supporting the Bill that seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India till December 31, 2014.

Widespread protests

Assam and other States including Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram have been protesting against the Bill that would make it possible for giving Indian citizenship, mostly to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh in Assam, who came after March 1971, in violation of the 1985 Assam Accord.

Nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from Assam’s final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on July 30 last year. The NRC is a Supreme Court-monitored exercise that is a fallout of the Assam Accord. Nearly 30 lakh of those excluded from NRC have filed claims to be included in the list of citizens.

“States like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram will not have any impact of the Bill as they are governed by Eastern Bengal Regulation Act, 1873. No outsider can enter the State without a permit,” said the BJP functionary.

Parliament push

As the protests continue, the government aims to to get the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 passed in the Rajya Sabha next week. The Centre will also introduce two other legislations pertaining to northeast in the ongoing interim budget session.

A Bill to declare six communities in Assam as Scheduled Tribes, making Assam a tribal-majority State will be introduced. The communities that are proposed to be extended ST status include, Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutiya, Matak, Moran and the States’ tea tribes.

“The Bill will pave the way for these six communities to apply for reservation in jobs and educational institutes. The quota for them will be hived off from the existing ones for Other Backward Classes (OBC) as the numbers for latter would fall if these six communities are accorded ST status,” said a senior government official.

For autonomous councils

Another Constitution Amendment Bill to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeast will also be introduced next week. The legislation will impact around one crore tribal people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, and substantially enhance the funds available to the local government institutions for undertaking development works in these tribal areas.

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