Protests Against Citizen Bill Continue In Northeast, BJP On Back Foot

The Lok Sabha cleared the Citizen Amendment Bill-2016, which aims to grant citizenship rights to non-Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries, on Tuesday.

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Protests against the controversial bill continue to ring in the Northeast.


Guwahati: 

Protests continued in the Northeast days after the Lok Sabha passed the controversial Citizen Amendment Bill-2016, which aims to grant citizenship rights to non-Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries.

The Lok Sabha cleared the controversial bill amid protests on Tuesday.

Even the BJP's regional allies are miffed. While the Asom Gana Parishad has parted ways with the ruling party in Assam, National People's Party chief Conrad Sangma is considering following suit. "This is very unfortunate. We, as a party and as a government, had raised our concerns. Our cabinet also passed a resolution against it a long time ago. There are various parties in our coalition, and we will soon take a call on how to move forward," Mr Sangma told reporters at state capital Shillong.

Sensing trouble brewing in the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out with the assurance that his party means well. The 25 Lok Sabha seats in the northeast are crucial for the BJP's electoral prospects in the upcoming parliamentary polls.

"After this was passed... children of Ma Bharat, those who sing Vande Mataram from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh can now become citizens of India easily.

We want to assure youngsters in the Northeast that their interests will be protected," PM Modi said at a rally in Maharashtra.

However, the assurances do not seem have placated protesters in the Northeast. Roads were blocked in front of the state secretariat in Guwahati, and BJP leaders were shown black flags wherever they went.

The Congress claims that the BJP is playing with fire. "This is not just a threat to the Northeast but the entire country. The Northeast region is key to preserving the unity and integrity of the country. The Prime Minister must not forget that that we are surrounded by other countries, and China is watching," said former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

The BJP has worked hard to build its presence in the Northeast since 2014, but this decision may just ruin it all.

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