Guwahati. The Assam Congress urged party president Rahul Gandhi on Monday to ensure that the grand old party votes against the contentious citizenship bill when it is placed in the Rajya Sabha.
“People of Assam are very disappointed that the Congress Party MPs decided to walk out prior to the voting on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8 during the passage of the Bill, thereby sending a message of tacit understanding with the BJP on this issue,” the legal department of the state Congress said in a letter to Gandhi.
The signatories to the letter are legal department convenor Monoj Bhagawati, chairman Niran Borah and coordinator Krishna Sarmah. The members pointed out that a secular Constitution cannot discriminate on the lines of faith, alleging that the bill struck at the very core of the Constitution.
The bill, which is pending in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The letter pointed out to the Assam Accord, 1985, which had specifically provided that illegal immigrants who came to the state after March 24, 1971, shall be detected and deported. But, the bill now pushes that date to December 31, 2014.
“It has been a longstanding demand of the people of the state and the Congress that the Assam Accord should be implemented in true letter and spirit and the Bill is a fraud on the people of Assam,” the letter added.
Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram, mostly ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party or its allies, are each a cauldron of ethnic, religious and tribal loyalties, the letter said, adding that the people of these states were incensed over what the bill seeks to accomplish. “In such a situation, the Congress taking an unequivocal stand will help the region and the party’s fortunes in the North East as well.”
The bill, if passed, will change the demographics of the regions, the languages and dialect, unique social structures and cultures of the people, which are already being threatened and their “annihilation will now get legal sanctity”, the letter said.
In a case like Tripura, indigenous people will become a minority in their own homeland, it added.