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AICC tries to put APCC house in order following differences on Citizenship Bill

GUWAHATI: The Opposition Congress’ attempt to put the BJP-led government on the mat by exploiting the raging in Assam by various political and non-political organisations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, has faced a hurdle from within the party because of the differences cropping up over the issue between Congress leaders from Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys of the state.

The Congress leaders from Barak Valley see no reason to oppose the Bill that that aims to grant citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from six communities from neighbouring countries including Bengali speaking Hindus from Bangladesh.

The Assam Congress has landed in an uncomfortable situation — while the State party leaders from Brahmaputra Valley opposed the Bill and the Barak Valley leaders submitted a memorandum to the visiting JPC supporting the Bill.

Sensing that the APCC is heading for showdown between the leaders from two regions in the state over the stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the AICC has decided to intervene to put the house in order in Assam Congress.

The AICC has assigned Dr C P Joshi, the General Secretary in-charge of the party affairs in Assam, to patch up differences surfacing between leadership of Assam Congress from Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley and Bengali-peaking Barak Valley.

The two factions of the APCC representing the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys during a meeting with C P Joshi agreed to arrive at a consensus to take a united stand on the Bill and follow the directions of the AICC in this regard.

The meeting chaired by C P Joshi was attended by president of the APCC Ripun Bora, Leader of the Opposition in Assam Assembly Debabrata Saikia, Lok Sabha MPs from Assam Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Dev, MLA Kamalakhya Dev Purkayastha and former minister Siddque Ahmed among others.

Following the meeting, APCC president Ripun Bora said the party had decided to take a united stand against the Bill and the AICC had barred party leaders in Assam to make out of the turn controversial statement on the issue.

Regarding differences prevailing among Congress leaders in Assam on the Bill, Bora said, “Congress is a democratic party where there may be difference of opinion among individual leaders on a particular issue. But as a party we stand united in opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and will continue to support Assam Accord that provides for detection and deportation of illegal migrants coming to the state after March 24, 1971 irrespective of caste, creed and religion of migrants.”

Meanwhile, the BJP government in Assam has termed the Opposition Congress’ stand on the Bill a reflection of double-standard maintained by the party. Senior Cabinet minister and senior leader of Assam BJP, Chandra Mohan Patowary pointed out that the previous Congress government in Assam adopted a Cabinet resolution in July, 2014 in favour of granting citizenship to those migrants from Bangladesh who had fled to Assam to escape persecution in their home state.

In the face of vociferous criticism, the BJP government in Assam has maintained that t will give its opinion on the Bill before the JPC only after the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is completed in the state.




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