Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga visited the national capital today in a combined effort to make the centre scrap the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in the face of raging protests across the region. Mr Sangma's National People's Party and Mr Zoramthanga's Mizo People's Front are both part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The two leaders visited Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and told him that all the six coalition partners -- including the United Democratic Party and People's Democratic Front -- believed that the bill would disrupt the social fabric of Meghalaya and the Northeast by causing law-and-order problems in the region. "The Citizenship Amendment Bill will affect the Northeast to a great extent. The bill is against the spirit of its people of North East, and is likely to give rise to serious repercussions. It will also create law-and-order problems," said Mr Sangma.
Meghalaya Health Minister AL Hek, who is from the BJP, maintained that everybody was opposed to the bill. "I urge your good office to reconsider the decision and resolve a solution for the people of Meghalaya and the Northeast," said West Garo Hills legislator Saleng A Sangma. "The bill will finish the identity of Meghalaya and lead to various social problems in the state."
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has already clarified that the BJP-led coalition government will not support the passage of the bill unless it includes a provision for protecting the indigenous people of the region. One of its allies -- the Asom Gana Parishad -- quit the alliance in protest last month.
The party leadership has assured NDA constituents in the Northeast that it will take every step to ensure that the people's interests are protected. "We're reaching out to our alliance partners who have expressed concerns over the bill. We assure them that the interests of each and every state will be taken care of. We're confident that those who have left will come back," BJP troubleshooter and general secretary Ram Madhav said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has triggered massive protests in the Northeastern states, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act-1955 for granting expedited Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from three neighbouring countries.