Some concerns over Bill genuine: Ram Madhav

GUWAHATI, 17th Jan: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Thursday said some concerns over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 are genuine, and that he will meet dissenting MLAs and other party leaders to convince them about the government’s intentions.
The BJP leader said there has been a sustained disinformation campaign in north-eastern states over the Bill, stressing the BJP was committed to fulfilling the aspirations of the people.
“Some opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is genuine, but there is also a section, including the Ulfa, who wants to create trouble and disturb the existing peace in the state due to political reasons,” said the senior BJP leader.
He appealed to the members of the high-powered committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and play a proactive role in ensuring its implementation.
Clause 6 of the accord suggests that the government has to enact constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
“For over 30 years, the Clause 6, which is the soul of Assam Accord, remained unimplemented. Our dedication and commitment is absolute. So we appeal to the four members who had resigned from the committee to take active role in the committee and solve the problem,” Madhav said.
The BJP government wants to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit, he added. Explaining on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, Madhav said that during the Partition, the people of Assam remained safe due to the leadership of Gopinath Bordoloi.
“However, many of them were not lucky enough and became a victim of the Partition. These people have nowhere to go, but India. So India will have to accept them,” said Madhav.
“However, a sustained disinformation campaign was launched in the region to disturb peace, combined with political reasons, which have led to problems in Assam and Manipur,” he added.
Asked about the opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill from some BJP leaders and partner of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the senior BJP leader said he will meet people’s representatives.
“I am going to meet the MLAs and other party leaders. I will try to convince them about the government’s intention. We will also persuade the NEDA members on the Bill,” said Madhav.
He also appealed to the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leaders to return to the BJP-led alliance.
The regional political party, which contested the 2016 assembly polls along with BJP and BPF, had snapped ties with the saffron party on January 7 after differences cropped up over the Bill. The three ministers of the AGP tendered their resignations to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on January 10. The Chief Minister's Office is however, yet to forward the resignations to Assam Governor.
"We have contested the polls 2016 as an alliance, so I appeal to them to come back to the alliance. There are concerns over the Bill, but we can allay the fears by talking to them. This is perhaps the reason why Assam Chief Minister is yet to forward their resignation to the Governor," said Ram Madhav.
Ram Madhav's statement assumes significance as Assam and some other states in the North-East have been witnessing protests over the Citizenship Bill. Some of the BJP legislators of Assam are unhappy as four BJP MLAs and Speaker of the Assam assembly Hitendra Nath Goswami have expressed their apprehensions over the Bill.
"We are talking to our allies in the North-East and will ensure that the Bill does not dilute indigenous people's identity," said Madhav. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conard Sangma is expected to lead a delegation from the state to New Delhi and meet Prime Narendra Modi and Home minister Rajnath Singh and express state's reservations on the Bill.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has already met the Prime Minister and expressed peoples' objection to the Bill.
Nagaland, where BJP is a partner of the ruling coalition, has asked the Centre to review the move while Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has made it clear that the state government will not support the Bill until the Centre includes a clause to protect the indigenous people.

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