Amid widespread protests in Assam over the centre's decision to go forward with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the state finance minister and BJP's main strategist for Northeast, Himanta Biswa Sarma sparked off a controversy with his statement that if the bill is not brought in, at least 17 districts in Assam will go the "Jinnah way".
He added that the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is being done to "drive out the Jinnahs", in an apparent reference to the Muslims of Bengali origin residing in Assam.
"This is a fight between the legacy of Jinnah and India. The NRC is a process to weed out the Jinnahs. If we do not implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, then Badruddin Ajmal will become chief minister and if there is no Citizenship Bill, at least 17 seats will go to the Jinnahs," Mr Sarma told reporters on Sunday.
Mr Ajmal is an MP from Dhubri and chief of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formed a high-power committee to look into the implementation of the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord that safeguards the socio-political rights and culture of the "indigenous people of Assam".
"We have discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding legal immunity for the indigenous people, and we have made recommendations to the ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)-constituted committee for the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. PM Modi has said he will think on the proposal of bringing the recommendations of the committee under Article 371. However, the committee has to recommend that it wants to be covered under 371 which provides special provisions for states like Nagaland and Sikkim," Mr Sarma told reporters in Guwahati hinting at a possible move to give 'special status' to Assam ahead of the crucial general elections.
Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats and seven of them are with the BJP. Mr Sarma also hinted at 'reservations' in the assembly, local bodies and even in jobs for Assamese people.
"The state government will move the centre to replace the word "Assamese" with "indigenous" in the Clause 6," he added.