Agatha supports bill unlike NPP-led MDA

NEW DELHI/ SHILLONG: Taking a different stand during the discussion on CAB in Parliament, Tura MP Agatha Sangma supported the bill but requested to exempt whole of North East from its ambit.
“I on behalf of my party NPP support the bill since it has addressed most of our concerns”, she said.
However, Shillong Congress MP Vincent H Pala moved an amendment to exempt entire Meghalaya from CAB. The amendment was rejected by voice vote.
The stand of Agatha contradicts that of the NPP in Meghalaya and MDA government.
Earlier on November 30, the NPP national president and Chief Minister Conrad Sangma led a delegation to New Delhi and passed a resolution opposing CAB. The copy of the resolution was handed over to Home Minister Amit Shah.
The resolution said, “The stakeholders comprising political parties, autonomous district councils and civil societies have met and resolved to oppose the CAB in Meghalaya.”
Later, on December 6, the meeting of the MDA Coordination Committee held in Shillong reiterated the stand.
After the meeting, the deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong said that they would also request Pala and Agatha to support the state government.
Earlier, when the bill was introduced, 293 votes were in its favour and 82 members voted against it with no absentee. But some MPs did not participate.
During the introduction and later during the discussion Congress members led by Gaurav Gogoi protested against the bill saying that it will kill the Assam accord and drastically alter the demography of the vulnerable region by reducing the indigenous tribes into miniscule minority in their own homeland.
Making a special reference to the hill state where his party is in alliance with the ruling MDA, Shah said, “Meghalaya — on the other hand — is protected by the Sixth Schedule, which has been kept out of the ambit of the bill.”
He also said that Manipur will be exempted from the purview of the bill with introduction of Inner Line Permit soon. (See Page 4)
While introducing the bill, Shah said that appropriate exceptions have been made for the region to ensure that its regional identity is protected.”I just want to tell the people that all the objections posed by Northeastern states have been addressed in this bill”, he said.
“There is no reason to get excited, there is no need to protest, enough has happened already, now this country just wants to go ahead peacefully”, he said. He was referring to the ongoing protests in the region, where the influential North East Students Organisation has announced an 11-hour shutdown on Tuesday against what it claims is an attempt to nullify the Assam accord of 1985.
The protesters have also termed the legislation, which seeks to make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to gain citizenship, as an “attempt to rob the North East of its identity”.
Shah, who is also President of the ruling BJP, claimed that the bill was introduced
after extensive negotiations with all the stakeholders concerned. “I have spoken to over 140 non-governmental organisations and political parties, besides the chief minister of every Northeastern state for over 119 hours. All their suggestions have been incorporated in the bill,” he said, adding that it was crucial that the people understand how the legislation would help thousands of migrants from minority communities that are being persecuted in other countries.
Shah took a dig at the Congress when he said that the party was responsible for partition on the basis of religion. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill wouldn’t have been needed if the Congress had not allowed partition on the basis of religion,” he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi went a step ahead and said the bill is in the interest of the Northeastern states and the entire country.
The bill is also most likely to be passed in Rajya Sabha even though the BJP has no majority there.
According to BJP sources, 122 members in the Rajya Sabha are already supporting the CAB and the party is expecting more to join them.
The current strength of the Upper House is 238 but in its previous term, the government could not push the bill through in the Rajya Sabha due to lack of numbers.

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