Former Assam chief minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta refrained from exercising his franchise in the second phase of ongoing Lok Sabha polls on Thursday.
Mahanta, who opposed alliance between the AGP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Thursday said he decided not to cast vote in protest against the BJP and its government’s move to get the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed.
As per the tie-up between the AGP and the BJP, out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, the BJP has fielded 10 candidates and left 3 seats for the AGP.
The 3 Lok Sabha constituencies where the AGP has fielded its candidates are – Dhubri, Barpeta and Kaliabor.
It may be mentioned that while the AGP has been opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, its ally BJP has vowed to get the Bill passed in the Parliament if it comes to power again after the Lok Sabha polls.
Although the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019, the Bill lapsed in the Rajya Sabha due to massive protests across the Northeast against it.
In order to encourage the voters to exercise their franchise, the government and the Election Commission of India had taken various awareness programmes. Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also appealed to all the electors through the social media platforms to cast their votes.
Responding to the appeal of the PM, many artistes and other personalities also encouraged the people of the country to come out to cast their valuable votes.
But Mahanta, who has been elected to the Assam Assembly for 7 times since 1985 and became chief minister of the state for twice, skipped the second phase of polling on Thursday.
Nagaoan Govt Boys’ HS School is the polling station of Mahanta, who is a resident of Shankar Mandir Road in Nagaon town.
But as Mahanta did not turn up during the voting hours on Thursday, the issue became the talk of the town.
When asked about the reason of the decision to avoid voting, Mahanta told reporters at his Nagaon residence, “I have decided not to cast vote in protest against the move of the BJP and its government to get the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed and destroy the future of Assam.”
Mahanta also said, “Although the BJP government failed to introduce and pass in the Rajya Sabha, BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have announced in several election rallies that they would turn the Bill into law if BJP comes to power again.”
He also stated that even in its election manifesto, the BJP has promised to make Citizenship Bill into law if voted to power.
Earlier, Mahanta asked the voters in favour of candidates who oppose Citizenship Bill.