For BJP, Warning From Northeast Ally Conrad Sangma Over Citizenship Bill

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Sangma said the Meghalaya Cabinet had passed a resolution opposing the Bill (File)

New Delhi:

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has described the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Lok Sabha as "unfortunate", adding to the ruling BJP's growing trouble with allies in the northeast over the measure.

Conrad Sangma on Tuesday said he would discuss the bill with his National People's Party (NPP) leaders to take a call on whether to end ties with the BJP.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Citizenship Bill that seeks to enable Indian citizenship for non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The law was passed amid vigorous dissent from opposition parties including the Congress and the Left. Most parties from the northeast, including BJP allies, have also strongly opposed Bill, saying it is "against the fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution".

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"Well, it is very unfortunate that this Bill has been passed as this is something which we have opposed vehemently," Mr Sangma told journalists.

Mr Sangma said the Meghalaya Cabinet had passed a resolution opposing the Bill.

Asked if the NPP will snap ties with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the Chief Minister said: "We will see about that and will discuss with all party leaders. As you are aware, our party is present in almost five North Eastern states. Therefore, I will need to call all the party leaders and take a call on this."

Critics of the bill say it will allow citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, who entered India after March 1971. Illegal migration is a sensitive issue in the northeast, where tribals and other ethnic communities wish to keep out the outsiders.

The BJP is a minor player in Meghalaya. If Mr Sangma's NPP decides to pull out of NDA, then the BJP-led Manipur government will be in trouble.

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