Guwahati: The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), the ruling coalition in the hill state, including two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members, on Friday passed a resolution opposing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The coalition, constituted by the National People’s Party (NPP), United Democratic Party (UDP), BJP, Peoples’ Democratic Front (PDF), Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Nationalist Congress Party, has 39 members, including two independent MLAs.
The coalition’s announcement came amid massive protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 wherein the BJP-led central government proposes to grant citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Commenting on the much-criticised Bill, the Meghalaya BJP leaders said they ‘were with the indigenous people’. With two members in the MDA coalition the BJP leaders said that they had supported the state cabinet’s decision against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Media reports quoted Al Hek, former Congress leader, who switched allegiance to BJP and holds the health minister portfolio, as saying: “We are with the people of the state. The state cabinet had unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the Bill and we are a part of the government."
However, Hek said he would not resign from the BJP over the issue and said, “People have voted for me. They have entrusted me with responsibilities as their representative and I will continue to serve in that capacity."
Donkupar Roy, UDP (which has nine MLAs) chief, also expressed his resentment and slammed the BJP for neglecting the voices of the people of northeast. Roy, who is also the speaker of the state assembly, reiterated the views of his cabinet adding ‘the Bill would open the gates for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to come into the state and in the northeast. We do not want the indigenous population to become a minority in our own state.’
Furthermore, the speaker demanded that Meghalaya and Northeast as a whole should be exempted from implementing the Bill which is “against the sentiments of the indigenous people”.
In the 60-member assembly, NPP is leading the government with 20 MLAs, where UDP has nine MLAs, two each from BJP and HSPDP, and one from NCP.