‘No changes needed in citizenship bill if Clause 6 implemented properly’

‘No changes needed in citizenship bill if Clause 6 implemented properly’

Guwahati, Apr 21: The citizenship bill does not require any changes if Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is implemented properly, says Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal about the proposed legislation which the top BJP leadership has vowed to bring back if voted back to power.
In an interview to a news agency, the student leader-turned politician said the bill will be brought after arriving at a consensus with all stakeholders.
“It (amending the Act) is not a new thing as amendments were taken up nine times before this also. This is a continuous process since 1950,” he said, adding the BJP will ensure constitutional safeguards to Northeast’s political, cultural, social and linguistic identity.
When asked if the Assam government will request the Centre to make necessary changes in the existing bill to allay apprehensions of the people here, Sonowal said that is not needed if the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is implemented properly.
The Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 after the Assam Agitation of 1979-85, envisages that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, should be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the people of Assam.
“If Clause 6 is implemented in letter and spirit, then the indigenous people of Assam are well guarded and protected. That was the agenda ought to be taken up on priority by earlier governments, but it was never seriously considered, Sonowal said.
“Now the prime minister has taken up the matter with sincerity, commitment and dedication. So, I believe once it is implemented, we have nothing to worry. If Clause 6 is implemented, we have no issue with the citizenship bill, even if it comes in the current form, he added.
Several groups and parties have opposed the bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 but was not tabled in Rajya Sabha and seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document.
Interestingly, though the BJP top brass has been talking about the citizenship bill in poll rallies, the state leaders have not raised the issue in their meetings and speeches.
State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier said that the citizenship bill was a non-issue in the state and the people are more concerned about national issues.
Sonowal also took a dig at the proposed ‘mahagathbandhan’ of opposition parties saying the ambitious grouping is dreaming of dethroning Prime Minister Narendra Modi but will “collapse soon” as it does not have any policy on patriotism, integration and service to the nation.
He claimed the constituents of this ‘grand alliance’ are together during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections only for their vested interests.
“They do not have any policy of integration, service to nation and patriotism. The ‘mahagathbandhan’ is mainly just to get power. They are all with vested interest,” he said.