GUWAHATI, Dec 5: With just four days left for tabling of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Parliament, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of BJP-led government in Assam, has urged the Centre to provide constitutional safeguard to the indigenous communities of the state before passage of the bill in Parliament.
This was decided in a meeting of the AGP Legislature Party (AGPLP) here on Thursday. The AGPLP has also sent a memorandum to Union home minister in this regard.
“We demand reservation of 100 out of 126 assembly seats for the indigenous communities of the state. We also demand 100 per cent reservation of all seats in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for indigenous communities,” AGP working president and state water resource minister Keshab Mahanta told reporters after the meeting.
“We also demand to reserve all posts of chairman of PSUs for indigenous communities, 100 per cent reservation of grade III and grade IV posts for indigenous communities,” Mahanta said.
“Assamese language should be protected under Article 345 of the Constitution of India. Necessary measures should be taken for preservation of all tribal languages,” he said.
The AGP also demanded to grant ST status to the six communities of the state Ahom, Moran, Matak, chutia, Koch raj Bongshis and Adivasis without affecting the existing tribal groups of the state, the minister said.
The AGP appears to be divided on the issue with its founding president and signatory to the Assam Accord Prafulla Kumar Mahanta opposing the Bill, while its current chief and state agriculture minister Atul Bora coming out in its support.
Mahanta, a former chief minister, said no discussion was held within the party on the Bill and “being a regional party, we cannot go against the interests of the indigenous people”.
He claimed that the views expressed by Bora was his personal and “he wants to further his own vested interests”.
Bora said the Centre has the requisite number of MPs and if “they want to introduce the Bill, the AGP cannot do anything. The Union home minister has assured us that the interests of the indigenous people will not be compromised”.
Bora and two other AGP ministers had earlier resigned from the government on the issue of the citizenship amendment bill (CAB) which could not be passed in Rajya Sabha during the BJP’s previous term. They later rejoined the Sarbananda Sonowal government in the state.