The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Monday decided to snap its two-year-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam hours after the Joint Parliamentary Committee submitted its report on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.
The Bill seeks to legalise the stay of non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who have come to India till December 31, 2014, allegedly due to religious persecution.
“We had decided some time ago to pull out of the alliance. The announcement was made today after all efforts to convince the Centre about the threat the Citizenship Bill poses for the indigenous people of Assam. We will go ahead with our policy of looking after the interests of genuine citizens of the State,” senior AGP leader and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta told The Hindu.
The announcement was made by AGP president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora in New Delhi who “saw no point in continuing with the alliance.” The AGP has two more ministers — Keshab Mahanta and Phani Bhushan Choudhury — in the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam.
Mahanta said the party would step up the opposition to the “anti-Assam” Bill as well fight for the proper implementation of the Assam Accord. The accord, signed in 1985, had ended a six-year agitation against illegal migrants.
The AGP pulling out of the alliance, however, does not threaten the Sonowal-led government, which still has the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) as its ally. “We are with the BJP, and the AGP’s move will not affect the alliance,” BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary said before leaving for New Delhi on Monday.
The majority mark in the 126-member Assam Assembly is 64. The BJP has 61 legislators while the BPF has 12, taking the total to 73. The AGP has 14 legislators.
The Opposition Congress has 25 MLAs and the All India United Democratic Front 13. Bhubon Pegu is the lone independent MLA.
The BJP has not yet reacted to the decision of AGP to pull out of the alliance.
Meanwhile, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti has welcomed the AGP’s decision to sever ties with BJP. “We can look forward to working with the AGP against the Citizenship Bill,” the group’s leader Akhil Gogoi said.