Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta Wednesday asked the Centre not to promulgate any ordinance after the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill could not be passed in Rajya Sabha. Mahanta also said the NDA government should notice that there has been "overwhelming" opposition to the legislation, which was passed in Lok Sabha on January 8 but could not be debated in Rajya Sabha, from the people of the Northeast.
"They (government) should not issue any ordinance. They should not try to impose the bill on the people of Northeast through other ways," he told reporters. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India, instead of the current 11 years.
The bill is set to lapse on June 3 when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends as it could not be passed in Rajya Sabha, which adjourned sine die on Wednesday. The Budget Session was the last Parliament session of the present government.
Mahanta said 11 political parties in the Northeast have fought together against the bill and this is a "victory of democracy" and the people of the region, which fought against the bill. "We hope that the government of India has noticed it. Today, democracy has won. They want to pass the bill undemocratically," he said.
Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya, advisor of the North East Students Organisation, a conglomerate of eight influential student bodies of the region, congratulated the people of northeast, saying the central government's move to amend the Citizenship Act has pushed the people of the region sentimentally afar from the rest of the country. "We hope that they will not take such move in future. People of the northeast are united and we will continue to be united to fight any such move which is against the interests of the northeast," he said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said it was a victory for the people of northeast as the bill could not get through Rajya Sabha. "It is a great victory for the people of northeast. Credit goes to all organisations, political parties and the people of northeast," he said.
Asked about the threat by his party, NPP, to walk out of the NDA if the bill is passed, Sangma said: "This is not the time to talk about political realignment". There has been strong opposition to the bill in Assam and other northeastern states.
Student organisations, political parties and socio-cultural bodies have been protesting on the grounds that it seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims who have come into India up to December 31, 2014, thereby increasing the deadline from 1971 as per the Assam Accord. Also, according to the Assam Accord, all illegal immigrants who have come after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported and this bill violates that.
Two BJP chief ministers of the Northeast -- Arunachal Pradesh's Pema Khandu and Manipur's N Biren Singh -- have also voiced their opposition to the contentious Bill.