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Illegal infiltration tops Assam poll agenda
March 28, 2006 12:14 IST
Illegal influx of Bangladeshis into Assam tops the campaign issue for opposition Asom Gana Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party for the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state with ruling Congress trying hard to underplay it.
The BJP is most vocal on the issue with all national leaders who are campaigning in the state focussed on the influx of foreigners and the consequent demographic change that it has brought about.
Former deputy prime minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, party president Rajnath Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, former Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Pramod Mahajan denounced the Congress government in Assam for its alleged narrow and motivated approach to issues "which have serious ramifications and could only be ignored with disastrous consequences".
The BJP also accused the ruling Congress government of playing partisan vote bank politics, which is detrimental to national interest.
The BJP leaders are also harping constantly on how they had been continuously demanding the repeal of the Illegal Migrants (determination by tribunals) Act and had brought a bill in Parliament for its scrapping, but the Congress "for the sake of vote bank politics delayed the bill through the then chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee Pranab Mukherjee".
The IMDT Act was finally scrapped by the Supreme Court on July 12, 2005, but the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre is trying to circumvent the court order by amending the Foreigners' Act to include the features of the scrapped act.
The BJP leaders termed the recent decision to amend the Foreigners' Act as a "political gimmick and dirty vote bank politics hurting the interests of the state and the security of the nation".
The opposition AGP, whose main poll plank in the earlier elections was the foreigners' issue, is also giving top priority in highlighting the issue before the electorate and also claiming credit for the repeal of the act.
AGP member of Parliament from Dibrugarh Sarbananda Sonowal, while he was the president of the All Assam Students' Union, had filed the petition in the Supreme Court seeking revocation of the IMDT Act, which finally led to its scrapping in 2005.
The AGP is claiming credit for it and has opposed the amendment to the Foreigners' Act with its leaders promising identification of illegal infiltrators and their subsequent deportation if they were voted back to power.
The AGP leaders in its meetings are constantly accusing the Congress of playing votebank politics with the illegal infiltrators and has blamed the ruling party of compromising with the security of the state.
The ruling Congress, however, is underplaying the problem with its leaders claiming effective measures like border fencing, reduction of distance between one outpost and another, increase in the strength of riverine police and providing of floodlights have been taken to stop infiltration.
The Congress leaders have said the party was of the opinion that all alleged foreigners should be detected through tribunals and already 32 have been set up for the purpose.
In order to arrive at a permanent solution to the foreigners' issue, a tripartite talk was held between the Union government, Assam government and the All Assam Student Union on May 5, 2005, wherein a decision was taken to update the National Register of Citizens, 1951, on the basis of the electoral rolls of 1971 and the process has started and it would be completed within two years.
Referring to the amendment to the Foreigners' Act, the Congress was of the view that it has been amended to avoid harassment of genuine Indian citizens as under the amended order, the tribunal before sending any alleged foreigner for trial would first consider whether there was a prima facie case against him or her.
Meanwhile, the influential AASU has also urged the contesting political parties to clarify their stand on the burning issue of infiltration.
The Students Union has demanded that the parties clarify their stand on time-bound implementation of the historic Assam Accord, stopping the process of granting citizenship to illegal foreigners, deportation of the post-1971 stream of foreigners, revision of NRC and constitutional protection to indigenous people.