Citizenship bill: Manipur BJP CM Biren Singh calls for review

58-Biren-Singh N. Biren Singh

In an embarassment to the BJP, its Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh has called for a review of the citizenship amendment bill (CAB). Singh is the first of the four BJP chief ministers from the northeast to question the bill.

Reacting to the upcoming meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Biren Singh said, "Yes, I am going to Delhi. I have decided to ask the Union home minister to review the decision to pass the citizenship amendment bill." Singh added that there was lot of misconceptions regarding the bill among people. "We must address it," he said.

Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh has asked all chief ministers from northeast to discuss the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The other three chief ministers from the BJP in the region, including Assam's Sarbananda Sonowal, Arunachal Pradesh's Pema Khandu and Tripura's Biplab Deb, have decided not to express their personal views on the contentious bill. 

All the chief ministers are expected to personally express their views on the bill. The Union government, sources have told THE WEEK, would come up with a few corrections in the bill. The bill might not be placed in the Rajya Sabha as of now and would be left for the next government to take a call. With the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha, the BJP would be in a position to get the political leverage.

Sources, however, said that though Deb would politically benefit from the bill—as he is from a Bengali-refugee dominated state—Sonowal and Khandu might have to face the political impact.

However, the entire northeast has risen in anger after the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha a fortnight back. On Wednesday, entire students unions in Manipur undertook massive demonstrations in Imphal protesting against the bill. Women from the Ima market (all-women's market of Imphal) also joined the students in the protest demonstration.

Various students organisation launched massive protests against the bill in Meghalaya's Shillong, too. 

In Assam, where the bill would have major impact, the situation remains tense with students organisation, along with Asom Gana Parishad  (AGP) and All Assam Students' Union (AASU), would make another massive demonstration next week after a brief hiatus. AGP President Atul Bora said, "Under no circumstances, we would let the bill implement in our land. The BJP would have to pay a heavy price for it."

AGP and the students organisations have also decided to bring all intellectuals under one umbrella to moot political opinion against the bill. Jubin Garg, one of the famous singers in Assam, drew controversy by saying that Bharat Ratna given to Assam's son of the soil Bhupen Hazarika was nothing, but to "appease the Assamese".

While many criticised Jubin for making such a statement, the political opponents of the BJP can now argue that intellectuals from Assam are against the bill.