BJP general secretary Ram Madhav appealed to the Asom Gana Parishad on Thursday to reconsider its decision to snap ties with the party over the contentious citizenship bill last week.
Madhav, who is also the incharge of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Northeast, sought to allay apprehensions regarding the bill, saying it was not only for Assam or the Northeast, but for the entire country.
Among those opposing the bill, there are some who are genuinely concerned "whom we respect", but there are also some who are opposing only for their "political interests", Madhav said at a press conference here.
There are others like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), who are opposing the bill to "disturb" peace and create unrest, he added. The AGP had on January 7 pulled out of the BJP-led coalition government in Assam, after its "last-ditch attempt" to convince the Centre to withdraw the proposed legislation failed.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Three AGP ministers had resigned from the Assam cabinet the next day.
"We appeal them (AGP) to reconsider their decision to leave the alliance as we went together to the people before the elections and also fought the assembly polls together.
"That is why Chief Minister Sabananda Sonowal has not forwarded the three AGP ministers' resignation letters to the governor for acceptance as the mandate of the people was for an alliance. We respect the people's mandate and appeal the AGP to reconsider its decision," Madhav said.
On some of the state BJP legislators coming out publicly against the bill, Madhav said, "They have a genuine concern. They will go to Delhi and we will explain to them to allay their apprehensions".
The civil society, student unions and regional political parties are protesting against the bill in northeastern states, fearing that their identities would be affected. "A situation has been created in Assam by creating a fear psychosis to stall the work of the high-level committee set up by the Centre to go into Clause 6 of Assam Accord.
"We understand that under such circumstances it is normal to be concerned. I assure that all measures will be taken so that the identity of Assam is not affected," he said.
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, 1985, envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
"There is no need for the uncalled for concerns among the people as legislative and administrative measures are being taken to protect the identity, language and culture of Assam and the other northeastern states," the BJP leader asserted.
"I want to remove the lie that is being spread... I am confident that after telling the truth to the people, they will understand our standpoint," he said.
"The government will keep in view its obligation to the refugees, the minorities of erstwhile Pakistan, as well as the interests of the people of Assam and the northeast region... That is why I appeal to those spreading misinformation to stop it," Madhav said.
The chief minister of Assam and its neighbouring northeastern states are under oath to protect the interests of the people, he said. "No problems will come their way."
"The government will also see to it that no obstruction comes in the way of the law that is being framed (on the Citizenship Bill)," he added.