Conrad Sangma, Atul Bora, Keshab Mahanta addressing the press after their arrival at the LGBI Airport. Credit: EastMojo Image

Guwahati: Following their successful “lobbying” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in New Delhi, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Atul Bora and senior party leader Keshab Mahanta received hero’s welcome at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport on Thursday.

Supporters of both National People’s Party (NPP) and AGP thronged the airport in large numbers and surrounded the arrival gate holding flags of both the parties. Some of them dressed up in their traditional attires, the airport was turned into a cultural extravaganza reverberating with the beat of drums.

While on one side, members from the Garo tribe of Meghalaya dressed up in their traditional tribal attire and danced to the beat of the drums. AGP supporters performed Bihu dance, an indigenous folk dance from the state of Assam after the arrival of the leaders.

Meghalaya CM Conrad K Sangma, AGP leaders Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta addressing media persons after their arrival at the LGBI airport in Guwahati

These happy scenes were in complete contradiction of what the Northeastern region was going through just a day ago, with the entire region witnessing protests, clashes and curfew.

Amidst all this revelry, Sangma and the AGP leaders, including Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta, arrived and received a hero’s welcome from the awaiting crowd.

People pushed and pulled just to get a glimpse of their leaders.

Speaking exclusively to EastMojo, Meghalaya CM Sangma, who has played a very significant role in bringing the regional political parties together to oppose the citizenship Bill, said, “We are simply doing our part, this (read Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 ) is really the issue of the people, and that is really what our objective has been.”

However, appearing wary of the possibility of the BJP trying to press the bill again, Sangma said, “Let us see, we will continue our efforts to ensure that we oppose the bill. It’s not that it’s completely out, we cannot take it easy. So we are talking to all the political parties and co-ordinating with all the parties.”

Meanwhile, Atul Bora, president of the AGP which had severed its ties with the BJP over the issue, said, “They (read BJP) did not table the bill because of the ‘Mahaul’ (environment) in Rajya Sabha. Some parties, specially the JD (U), also gave us their full support. We met the JD (U) chief in Bihar and he ensured us that he will offer his helping hand.”

Speaking about the support that north-eastern leaders received from other national parties, Bora said, “It was not just JD (U), Shiv Sena and Samajwadi Party have also extended their support. All the major parties of the nation opposed the bill, and we were sure that it will be difficult to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha.”

Bora further said, “It will badly affect the BJP’s political fortunes in the Northeast in days to come. Barak valley is a different case, but in other parts of Assam, or northeast, it is different.”

While the Bill led to sheer pandemonium across the region, it has also brought the regional party leaders to come together, and Sangma has been very instrumental in making this possible, and he has emerged as a strong leadership representing Northeast in the national political scenario. This is evident in the popular support that Sangma is getting from the people of the region.

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