Nagaland minister and BJP state president Temjen Imna Along Credit: File image

Kohima: At a time when political parties across the Northeast have stated that implementation of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would jeopardise their relations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nagaland minister Temjen Imna Along clarified that the state’s BJP unit will not dissociate themselves from the national leadership even if the Bill is brought into force after Lok Sabha elections.

Along, who is also the state unit president of the BJP, was replying to a question by opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) MLA Moatoshi Longkumer in the assembly recently.

Longkumer, however, insisted that the BJP, a constituent of the ruling NDPP-led People’s Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland, also issued a statement on the matter.

He alleged that the Neiphu Rio-led government took a U-turn on the Bill after protests broke out in the state and other parts of the Northeast.

“Initially, the chief minister had stated they will not oppose the Bill because Article 371(A) protects Nagas. They changed their stance later, keeping in mind popular sentiments,” the NPF legislator said during a discussion on the Bill.

The chief minister tabled a resolution in the assembly on Saturday; opposing the passage of the Citizenship Bill in Parliament. Rio said the central government was pursuing the bill for enactment, despite opposition by state governments, political parties, tribal organisations and civil societies in the Northeast.

Longkumer said every constituent of the PDA government — NDPP; BJP, JD (U) and the National People’s Party and an independent MLA — should make their stand clear on the Bill, he said.

“The statements of the PDA members are very misleading. Opposition MLAs are not nursery students; we understand Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and Article 371(A). It is not a rocket science.”

Along said the state unit of BJP “strongly supports the resolution”.

The Bill, which was introduced in Parliament by the NDA government, is a matter of concern for the indigenous people of Northeast states, including Nagaland, the higher and technical education minister said.

He called upon the MLAs to “unite together on the issue, instead of speaking against each other”.

Minister for agriculture and cooperation G Kaito Aye said the Northeast states should be exempted from the purview of the Bill. Stressing that the Centre has not opposed Article 371 (A) that deals with special status accorded to the people of Nagaland in totality. Aye said the Naga political discussion is in progress and the state needs to be careful to ensure it’s not affected.

It states that no act of Parliament with respect to religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the state unless the assembly by a resolution so decides.

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