Amit Shah last week met politicians from the northeast states over the bill (File)
The Asom Gana Parishad, the BJP’s Assam ally which had opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill last year, is all set to support the ruling party this time over the contentious legislation. The party has not officially confirmed its decision; but insiders say it has sent a list of demands to BJP chief Amit Shah in return of its support to the bill. .
The bill, which is likely to be tabled in parliament next week, seeks to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act that says individuals looking to gain citizenship must have lived in the country for 12 months prior to application and for 11 of the last 14 years; if passed it will reduce the latter to 6 years for non-Muslim applications from the three countries.
The Union Cabinet earlier this week cleared the draft.
On Thursday, the AGP wrote to Mr Shah urging the centre to ensure constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of the state. The party has demanded 100 per cent reservation for indigenous people in government jobs, legislative assembly and parliamentary seats. It has also asked the centre to provide inner-line permit system and scheduled tribe status to six communities – Sootea, Muttock, Moran, Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom and tea tribes.
The letter to Mr Shah was sent a day after an emergency meeting of top party leaders took place.
The AGP has three ministers in Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s cabinet.
The tabling of the bill had triggered massive protests in the northeast states earlier this year. The AGP had severed ties with the government over the issue. However, a month before the national election in May, the two parties had come together again.
This time, the AGP has taken a different stand as the party feels that the BJP has numbers to pass the legislation in Lok Sabha and might get the bill cleared in Rajya Sabha as well.
However, senior leader and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said he doesn’t endorse the controversial bill.