Assamese celebrate Citizenship Bill no-show in Rajya Sabha

Supporters of various Assamese organisations agitating against the Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on 8 January, were seen coming out to the streets, bursting crackers, sharing sweets and dancing

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Guwahati: With the contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill set to lapse on 3 June as it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha which adjourned sine die on Wednesday, celebrations broke out among the Assamese people who had been vehemently protesting against it.

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The Budget session was the last Parliament session of the present government as the Lok Sabha polls are due this summer.

Supporters of various organisations agitating against the Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on 8 January, were seen coming out to the streets, bursting crackers, sharing sweets and dancing. Slogans such as “Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sarbananda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma hai hai” rent the air here.

Organisations like the All Assam Students Union (AASU), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) claimed that not passing of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha is a “victory of democracy, of the people of Assam and the northeast region against communal forces”.

AGP leader and former Assam chief minister Prafulla Mahanta, party chief Atul Bora, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi and top political leaders of the Congress are in Delhi to campaign against the Bill.

Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi said the people were “saved today from the conspiracy of the BJP to destroy the people in the N-E region”.

“This democratic momentum of the people has to continue against the communal forces,” he added.

Assam PCC president Ripun Bora said the party fought against the controversial Bill under the guidance of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and AICC president Rahul Gandhi.

Assam Finance Minister and BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is an ardent supporter of the Bill, termed it a “defeat of Assam” and claimed that without its enactment, 17 assembly seats will go to Bangladeshi Muslims.

“We did not have the number in the Rajya Sabha. We will pass the Bill when there is a majority … The BJP is committed to the Bill and will remain so for the protection of the people of Assam, their language and culture,” he said.

“We (BJP) will fight on only this issue in the coming Lok Sabha elections. We are not secretive about it”, he asserted.

Rajkumar Sarma, senior BJP leader in the State, said “BJP supports the constitutional amendment for the security of Assam. The BJP government will return with Narendra Modi as the prime minister. Then we will present the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.”

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was listed to be tabled in Rajya Sabha on 13 February amid protests in the northeast against the Bill.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

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