Citizenship Bill
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal interacting with the editors of print and electronic media in Guwahati on Saturday.

Faced with the ire of various organisations of the state over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who had maintained a studied silence over the issue, on Saturday made a desperate bid to douse the fire by stating that the government is not going to do anything that affects the interests of the State.

Chief Minister Sonowal, who interacted with the editors of the print and electronic media on the prevailing situation of the state at his official residence here, said the Government of Assam would not resort to any activity which goes against the interests of the people of the state.

Sonowal said the state government is committed to the cause of the people and would always continue working in the greater interests of the state, a statement issued from chief minister’s office (CMO) said.

“If I cannot protect the people’s interests, there is no point to me staying on as chief minister,” Sonowal said.

Sonowal, who was once referred to as a Jatiyo Nayak, however, did said anything whether his cabinet would take a decision against the bill as neighbouring state Meghalaya did.

The Meghalaya cabinet on May 8 decided to oppose the bill proposed by the Centre. Protests against Delhi and Dispur escalated in the state after the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the controversial bill visited the state.

The parliamentary panel conducted public hearing on the bill on May 7 in Guwahati amidst protests carried out by numerous organizations demanding scrapping of the bill.

The JPC, however, received warm reception from different organisations and political parties in Barak valley, where a two-day hearing was conducted on May 8 and 9.

Despite protests, Sonowal, who is former a president of AASU, did not break his silence on the issue.  Fearing protests, the chief minister on Thursday had to skip an event in Cotton University, where he was supposed to attend as chief guest.

Posters of the Chief Minister as ‘missing’ were spotted in and around the varsity campus in Pan Bazar. Posters and cartoons criticising Sonowal over his silence on the issue were doing the round on social media like WhatsApp and Facebook as well.

Mahesh Deka

Mahesh Deka is Senior Copy Editor of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: maheshdk3@gmail.com

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