Shillong: Former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would have been passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday by the BJP government if the Congress-led Opposition was not there.
“The Congress-led Opposition stood firm and remained as a strong wall, otherwise, they were determined to pass the Bill despite the ‘tamasha’ threats shown by NDA allies,” the Leader of Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly told journalists.
“The whole country has seen how the Congress has stood firm in its commitment to protect the interest of the nation in general and the people of the Northeast, especially of the microscopic ethnic groups,” he added.
Sangma claimed that the Business Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha had decided that the Bill should not be presented because it is “controversial” and “will cause disturbances in the whole Northeast”.
“They (NDA government) again brought in supplementary list to introduce the Bill in Rajya Sabha. However, they could not got it passed because of the firm commitment of the Congress,” he said.
Describing the allies of NDA and partners of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) as “wolf in sheep’s clothing” the Congress leader said: “These people are shamelessly telling the people that we are with you. They are not with us but with the BJP.
“If these parties are with the people of the Northeast, they cannot be with the BJP. But they are and have been with the BJP even when the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha,” Sangma asserted.
“That was the time that they should say ‘goodbye’ (to BJP) because of the anti-people agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that is going to be disastrous for the nation. But these people are power-hungry and wanted to somehow cling to power whether it is BJP Chief Minister or ministers in Assam and other Chief Ministers,” he further said.
“One MP from Nagaland, who belonged to the Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio’s party (National Democratic People’s Party), had voted for the Bill in Lok Sabha. Those who are part of the NEDA are for this Bill, including the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister who said that Arunachal will not have a problem because there is an Inner Line Permit. All these partners are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“They should have shown their true colour on the day when the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha but they did not, and these shameless people have been exposed now. I must say, these are the Judas who betrayed the people of the Northeast.”
On the ruling National People’s Party’s threat to snap ties with the NDA if the Bill is passed in Rajya Sabha, Sangma said: “These people know that the Congress is in Rajya Sabha. We have told everybody that let them come in Rajya Sabha we will defeat them, and we have defeated them on Wednesday. If Congress was not there, they would have bulldozed. I have been reminding the people that the BJP wanted to rule the states because it wanted to maintain a majority in Rajya Sabha.”
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 will lapse on June 3, when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends, as the Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, the last day of the Budget Session.
Various civil society groups and political parties in the northeastern states opposed the Bill saying that it would reduce the ethnic minority communities in the region once the Bill becomes an Act.
The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.