AGP accuses Sonowal of 'not cooperating' on Citizenship Bill

Guwahati, Jan 8 (PTI) The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on Tuesday accused Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of "not cooperating" on the Citizenship Amendment Bill and giving due respect to the emotions and interests of the Assamese people.The AGP, which withdrew from the ruling BJP alliance in the state on Monday following the Centre's decision to ensure passage of the bill in Lok Sabha, had on several occasions asked the chief minister to urge the Centre to not go ahead with the bill but "unfortunately, he did not listen to us," AGP president Atul Bora told reporters here."We had pointed out to Sonowal that people had accorded him the title of 'Jatiya Nayak' (leader of the community) after the Supreme Court scrapped the Illegal Migrants' Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act following his petition and it was his duty to respect people's sentiments on the issue," he said.The proposed legislation seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.The chief minister had assured us that the Centre will not go against the interest of the Assamese people but it is "unfortunate that he did not do enough to stall the bill," the AGP president said."As the chief minister, it was his primary duty to ensure that people were not burdened with the bill. If Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues and the state BJP leadership had taken a strong stand and respected people's sentiments on the bill, then the Centre would not have dared to go ahead with such arrogance," Bora said.He said for AGP, "peoples' interest and not power was important and we tried our best till the last to ensure that the bill was not passed but when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted that it will passed, we could not remain in the government and had to withdraw".Three AGP ministers in the state cabinet -- Bora (agriculture), Keshab Mahanta (water resources) and Phanibhushan Choudhury (food and civil supplies) -- will tender their resignations and complete the other related formalities on Wednesday, the party chief said."We have extended support to the ongoing bandh today, so decided to postpone the formalities to resign for tomorrow," Bora said.He further said the party will now go to the people and work at the grassroot level and "we appeal to those with whom we had worked for years in the AASU (All Assam Students Union) to protect the interest of the indigenous population (and) to come and join us."The AGP, with 14 seats in the 126-member legislative assembly, had entered into an alliance with the BJP before the 2014 assembly polls.The BJP has 61 MLAs and support from 12 MLAs of the Bodoland People's Front and the sole Independent member. PTI DG TR ESB RG DIVDIV