The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance cabinet, which has two BJP ministers, has passed a resolution opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, as the saffron party’s leadership in the state asserted they were “with the indigenous people” on the proposed legislation.
The Cabinet passed the resolution during a meeting on Thursday.
The BJP, which has two MLAs in the MDA government, backed the Cabinet decision.
“We are with the people of the state. The state cabinet had unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the Bill and we are part of the government,” Health Minister and BJP MLA A L Hek said.
Asked if he would resign from the BJP on the issue, he said, “No question”. “People have voted for me. They have entrusted me with responsibilities as their representative and I will continue to serve in that capacity.”
The ruling National People’s Party (NPP), the United Democratic Party (UDP), the BJP and the Hills State Peoples Democratic Party, as well as the opposition Congress, have voiced their opposition to the Bill, reflecting strong dissent prevailing in the state against the proposed legislation, cleared already by Lok Sabha.
The ruling UDP (having nine MLAs) has aired its opposition to the Bill and party president Donkupar Roy slammed the BJP at the Centre for “going against the voices of the people”, particularly in the frontier states of the northeast region.
Roy, who is also the speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, told PTI, “There is a great danger in accepting the Bill in its current form, and if it’s implemented in the frontier states of the North East, particularly in Meghalaya.”
He said, “The Bill would open the gates for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to come into the state and in the northeast. We do not want the indigenous population to become a minority in our own state.”
The speaker demanded the state and the northeast region be exempt from implementing the proposed legislation “going by the sentiments of the indigenous people.”
National Peoples Party (NPP) president and Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had said his party will be meeting in the coming days to decide on the future course of action of the party with regards to the Citizenship Bill.
The NPP is heading the MDA government and has 20 MLAs in the 60-member House.
On Friday, Sangma flew to Itanagar to meet his party leaders in that state. His party is also a part of the ruling government in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (with 2 MLAs), and part of the ruling MDA government, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday demanding reconsideration of the implementation of the Bill, party MLA Renikton told PTI.
He said the party met urgently last Wednesday and expressed concern over the Bill.
“The Bill opens floodgates for influx of foreigners into indigenous hill state like Meghalaya. We demand 1971 as the cut-off year for identifying genuine citizens in the country,” the letter said.
The Bill proposes to accord Indian citizenship on non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“We earnestly pray that Bangladesh be excluded from the Bill and we assure you that you will get an unstinted support from the people of the North East,” it added.
The Peoples Democratic Front (having 4 MLAs and is part of the ruling dispensation) will be meeting shortly to decide on how to air its opposition to the Bill.
Former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma termed the Bill as the “biggest” let down to the indigenous people in the northeast post partition.
“This Bill is aimed at crushing the indigenous people here. I condemn it,” the senior Congress leader said.