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UDP 'uncomfortable' with BJP after Citizenship Bill fiasco

twitter-logoPTI | February 24, 2019 | Updated 22:32 IST

Shillong, Feb 24 (PTI) The United Democratic Party (UDP), a key constituent of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), Sunday expressed its discomfort with the BJP backing the coalition government in the state, after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill fiasco. The UDP had on Wednesday severed ties with the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA), an alliance of non-Congress parties in the northeast, over the bill. "We are not comfortable with the BJP in the coalition especially after all the issues of beef ban and Citizenship Amendment Bill cropping up time and again," UDP vice president Allantry F Dkhar told PTI here. The UDP is a constituent of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), which also includes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its two MLAs. Although the BJP MLAs have openly registered their strong opposition to the bill, the UDP is facing tough questions from the electorates for hobnobbing with the national party, he added. While BJP MLA and Cabinet Minister A L Hek was a signatory to the cabinet decision to oppose the controversial bill, lawmaker Sanbor Shullai had threatened to resign from the party if it was passed. The contentious Citizenship Bill is set to lapse on June 3, when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends. It could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session, the last Parliament session of the present government, which ended last week. According to Dkhar, the UDP suffered a major blow in the February 2018 assembly elections in Meghalaya due to reports that it would form a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The opposition Congress took advantage and campaigned against us resulting in the UDP winning only six assembly seats, he said. Dkhar said the BJP and the Congress were "two sides of the same coin", accusing them of being behind the beef ban and the Citizenship Bill since 1945. To prove his point, he cited the resolution of the Congress Working Committee in 1947 where the party had said that it was "bound" to afford full protection to all non-Muslims who have crossed the border to save their life. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who fled persecution, after six years of residence in India, instead of 11 years, which is currently the norm, even if they do not possess any document. The UDP leader also sought a ban on national political parties intervening in the tribal autonomous district council elections in the state for conflict of interests. "National parties represent the interests of the entire nation. How can they speak for the interests of particular communities in the autonomous district council elections?" he asked. While, the Congress is contesting in all 29 seats in each of the two district council elections that will go to poll on February 27, the BJP did not field any candidate. PTI JOP SBN RHL

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