Three legislators of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), who were members in the Council of Minister, led by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, resigned on Wednesday.
The resignation on Wednesday followed the regional political party’s decision to quit from the BJP-led ruling alliance in Assam on Monday.
Three Ministers — Assam Agricultural Minister Atul Bora, Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta and Food & Civil Supplies Minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury met Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at his office in Dispur on Wednesday evening and tendered their resignations.
The meeting with the Chief Minister lasted for about 25 minutes.
The AGP, which forged an alliance with the BJP and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) ahead of the 2016 legislative Assembly elections in Assam, quit from the alliance due to the different over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The constitutional amendment bill was passed in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote on Tuesday.
The contentious Bill seeks to grant citizenship to six minority communities including the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who entered India due to religious persecution.
“We fought against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 till the last moment. However, after meeting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, we were convinced the BJP is going to pass the Bill in Lok Sabha. We tried our best but failed. We met the Chief Minister here today and tendered our resignations,” said AGP president Atul Bora after coming out of the Assam Chief Minister’s Office at Dispur on Wednesday evening.
“We have decided to take the side of people of Assam. Our party is a party of the people and built at the cost of 855 martyrs. After becoming a part of the government in 2016, we tried to serve the people. However, we cannot accept the Bill particularly when the entire state is witnessing mass protests against the Bill,” said Bora.
“We have entered into an alliance with the BJP, BPF and some other parties ahead of 2016 polls. It was a decision taken after consultation with the people of Assam. Today we are coming out of the alliance for the sake of the state and its people,” Bora added.
Talking to the media after tendering resignation at Dispur, Keshab Mahanta, who is also the AGP working president said, “We have fought against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill from the streets of Assam to the floors of the Parliament. We reached to the leaders both inside and outside the NDA including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U), Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena and other political parties which supported us in the Parliament against the Bill. We extend thanks to all of them for their support.”
Meanwhile, the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 continued to rock the State even on Wednesday. While hundreds of people belonging to several organisations took out a protest demonstration in front of the Assam Secretariat at Dispur in the city on Wednesday, several other organisations including the artistes have taken out a candle light procession in the city on Wednesday evening.
The protests in front of the Assam Secretariat during the day turned little violent as the agitators tried to break the police barricade and enter the Assam Secretariat. A few of the agitators also got injured due to the scuffle with the police and security forces.
The agitators were later whisked away by the security forces and detained in police stations but only to be released later in the evening.
A group of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had also protested on Wednesday in Nagaon district by showing black flag to Assam BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, who had gone there to address a party meeting.
The northeastern States on Tuesday witnessed a total shutdown for 11 hours in response to a bandh call given by North East Students’ Organization (NESO) in protest against the BJP Government’s move to pass the Bill in Parliament.