By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2019-12-15 16:49:07
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the BJP in Assam, has made a u-turn over CAB and has now decided to oppose it and file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments to the Citizenship Act. This was bound to happen given the large scale discontent in Assamese society over the blatant attempt by the Centre to ride roughshod over the provisions of the Assam Accord. The AGP, which was formed by ex-leaders of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) after the foreigners' agitation was stopped on the signing of the Accord, cannot be expected to toe the BJP line in the face of the discontent. It will be political suicide for the party, already marginalized due to its alleged compromise with its principles, to support CAB in its present form.
It needs reminding that the Assam Accord had provided for detection and deportation of all illegal aliens who entered the state after the cut-off date in 1971, just before the Indo-Pak war that year. The CAB now proposes to extend that to 2014. People in Assam say that this is unfair as the state has already suffered irreparable damage to its demography and is forced to bear the burden of these 'foreigners' who are making them a minority in their homeland and crushing their culture and customs. Their fears are not unfounded.
The AGP is doing what is needed for it to remain relevant in state politics. It cannot ignore the wishes of a large number of people in the state. It remains to be seen whether it remains an alliance partner of the BJP or whether it joins hands with AASU and other regional bodies that are spearheading the agitation against CAB. Although the agitation has turned violent at times because no clear leadership has emerged to guide it, it is sure that the people of Assam are not going to accept the CAB unless they are assured that citizenship granted under it will not place an additional burden on the state. This is going to be an ongoing and prolonged agitation.
pic courtesy: time8.in