AGP remains steadfast in opposing CAA, to proceed with Supreme Court challenge

AGP, part of NDA, opposes CAA, pursues Supreme Court case. The party had challenged the law in court in 2019. AGP leader Phani Choudhury says the party still opposes the Act and continues to fight against it. Choudhury claims the AGP has not diluted its stand on the issue, despite being in the NDA. Opposition candidates accuse AGP of betraying the public sentiment by opposing the CAA while being allied with the BJP. AGP is contesting on the development plank and hopes to benefit from the increased Hindu voter percentage in the constituency.

PTI | Deohati | Updated: 05-05-2024 11:21 IST | Created: 05-05-2024 11:21 IST
AGP remains steadfast in opposing CAA, to proceed with Supreme Court challenge
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Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is a part of the ruling NDA, asserted that it still opposes the CAA and will continue to pursue the case it has filed against the contentious law in the Supreme Court.

After the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in Parliament, AGP had in December 2019 challenged the law in the apex court and demanded that the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam be excluded from the purview of the legislation.

In an interview with PTI here, veteran AGP leader and candidate for Barpeta Lok Sabha seat, Phani Bhusan Choudhury said the party still opposes the Act and will continue to raise its voice in every platform.

''The AGP is clear in its stand... it opposes the CAA. We are, in fact, fighting a case in the Supreme Court against the law,'' he said, when asked about the party's position after the rules of Act were notified days before the Lok Sabha elections were announced.

Asked if it was not a ''double standard'' for the AGP to remain in the NDA and also oppose CAA, Choudhury claimed the regional party has never diluted its stand on the issue.

''BJP is a national party and AGP a regional outfit. Their aims and objectives are different from ours. It will not happen that we will support the CAA because we are with the BJP. That's why our party decided to approach the Supreme Court against the CAA and fight a case, which is still on,'' he added.

Opposition candidates from Congress and CPI (M) in Barpeta are raising the CAA issue, accusing the AGP nominee of ''betraying'' the public sentiment.

AGP had broken its ties with BJP over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in January 2019, but returned to the NDA fold within two months and fought the Lok Sabha polls in Assam in alliance with the saffron party that year.

During the passage of the Bill in December 2019, AGP's lone MP in the Rajya Sabha, Birendra Prasad Baishya, opposed it during the discussion, but voted in favour of it.

In between hectic campaigning in rural areas of Abhayapuri in Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency, Choudhury slammed the opposition for contesting the elections ''just for time pass as they don't have any issue to talk about''.

''Whether CPI (M) or Congress, they are in the fray just to blame the government. The present dispensation is doing all-round development but the opposition is not talking about it,'' he added.

The AGP candidate claimed that during his one-and-half-month-long election campaigning in every nook and corner of the constituency, ''not a single person has complained about price rise''.

''It (price rise) is a natural phenomenon, a pan-India issue and can't be looked at separately in Assam. Not a single voter has questioned us as of now (over the issue). They (opposition) have to say something before people. All the issues they are raising against us are all baseless,'' he added.

Choudhury said that all the 10 assembly segments in Barpeta Lok Sabha seat are prone to floods and erosion and this is one of the major issues in the constituency.

He said that if he wins the elections, he will discuss the problem with the people and go through it accordingly.

''We want to solve it,'' he added.

Claiming that he is ''much ahead of other candidates'', Choudhury said the ruling alliance is fighting this election on the development plank.

Choudhury, who is the longest serving MLA of Assam for eight consecutive terms since 1985, asserted that Hindu voters becoming a majority in Barpeta Lok Sabha seat after delimitation will favour him in ''sailing through the race comfortably''.

''The population pattern in Barpeta has changed a lot. Earlier, minority votes were more in Barpeta. After delimitation, Hindu percentage has increased. The present voter composition is conducive for the AGP-BJP alliance's victory,'' he said.

There are nearly 19.8 lakh voters in Barpeta. Of them over 12 lakh are Hindus and around seven lakh are Muslims.

Choudhury, however, added that when he first entered the contest in Barpeta, he estimated his winning margin will be over two lakh votes but during campaigning, he realised that minority voters were with the NDA and will vote for him.

He claimed that Muslim voters, especially the Bengali-speaking ones, have understood that the Himanta Biswa Sarma government has worked for both Hindus and Muslims, and there was no discrimination.

''A major portion of the Muslims are now supporting us. That is why, we hope that our margin will be more than five lakh votes,'' he asserted.

Choudhury also opined that all the opposition parties contesting separately in Barpeta will lead to division of anti-NDA votes, which will make his journey smoother.

From the opposition, the CPI (M) has nominated senior leader and lone MLA in assembly, Manoranjan Talukdar, from Barpeta. The Congress has nominated its state Seva Dal chief Deep Bayan, while the TMC has named Abul Kalam Azad for the seat.

Congress, CPI (M) and TMC are members of the United Opposition Forum Assam (UOFA), formed in the state with 16 parties in line with the INDIA bloc.

Barpeta is currently represented by Congress MP Abdul Khaleque, who had resigned from the party last month after he was denied a ticket. However, he later withdrew the resignation following a meeting with party president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi.

Apart from Barpeta, AGP is contesting in Dhubri, where the party has nominated its former MLA Zabed Islam.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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