AGP to file plea in Supreme Court for revocation of amended Citizenship Act

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Published: December 16, 2019 8:00:03 AM

Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who has been vocal about his opposition to the CAA, has said that the party had never taken a resolution supporting the Act and urged the leadership to clear the party's stand on the contentious issue.

The AGP had returned to the NDA fold in March 2019 and fought the Lok Sabha polls in Assam in alliance with the BJP, just two months after breaking the same ties over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Demanding exclusion of the Brahmaputra valley from the purview of the amended Citizenship Act, ruling BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad on Sunday announced to challenge the law in the Supreme Court after the party faced the ire of a section of party leaders and grassroots-level workers. Addressing a press conference here, AGP president and Assam minister Atul Bora said the Brahmaputra valley should be excluded from the purview of the law and it may be implemented in the Barak valley. “We will take the legal route to seek revocation of the amended Act as the indigenous people of Assam are apprehensive that their identity, language might come under threat,” AGP leader Kumar Deepak Das told PTI.

A delegation of AGP, led by Das, is to leave for Delhi to file the plea in the apex court as PILs seeking revocation of the Act were scheduled to be taken up for hearing on December 18. Das, a former Rajya Sabha MP, appealed to party workers to maintain calm as the AGP “respects the sentiments of the people and we will never go against their hopes and aspirations”. AGP leader and Assam Minister Keshab Mahanta said the party has not left its “old stand” of opposing the contentious Act. “Though we are a part of the NDA, our stand has not changed.

We still do not want this Act to be implemented in Assam and North East,” he added. The regional party’s lone MP in the Rajya Sabha Birendra Prasad Baishya had opposed the Bill in Parliament, but voted in favour of it. After that, the party has been termed a “traitor” and is facing severe criticism across the state with its leaders being boycotted from public events. Dissidence has been brewing in the AGP after Bora said if the Centre “wants to bring the Bill, he cannot do anything about it”.

Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who has been vocal about his opposition to the CAA, has said that the party had never taken a resolution supporting the Act and urged the leadership to clear the party’s stand on the contentious issue. “Being a regional party, we cannot go against the interests of the indigenous people and the views expressed by party President Atul Bora was his personal and not the stand of the party,” Mahanta claimed. AGP MLA Brindaban Goswami has also been critical of the party leadership on the issue of CAA and said on Sunday “what is the point of filing a petition against the CAA now after the party MP voted in its favour”.

He urged the party workers not to quit the AGP but work at the grassroots level to strengthen the party and “ensure that the aspirations and sentiments of the Assamese people are honoured and the CAA is revoked”. The AGP has three ministers in the BJP-led state government and its workers are demanding them to leave the NDA after passage of the legislation in Parliament with many local units threatening to resign, while the Guwahati unit of staged a protest outside the party headquarters at Ambari area on Sunday. The AGP had returned to the NDA fold in March 2019 and fought the Lok Sabha polls in Assam in alliance with the BJP, just two months after breaking the same ties over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Assam has witnessed one of the worst violent protests by the public in its history with three rail stations, post office, bank, bus terminus, shops, dozens of vehicles and many other public properties being set ablaze or totally damaged. Already five persons, including four in firing by security forces, have lost their lives since Wednesday. After Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday night, the state erupted in uncontrolled protests, in which agitators engaged in pitch battle in almost every major city or town, forcing the administration to impose curfew. Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli. Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts.

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