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Still against CAA, the case will continue in the Supreme Court: AGP

Deohati: Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), part of the ruling NDA, asserted that it is still against the CAA and will continue the case it filed against the controversial law in the Supreme Court.

After the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed in Parliament, AGP had challenged the law in the apex court in December 2019 and demanded that Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley be excluded from the ambit of the legislation.

In an interview with PTI here, veteran AGP leader and candidate for Barpeta Lok Sabha seat Phani Bhusan Choudhury said the party is still against the law and will continue to raise its voice on every platform.

“The AGP is clear in its stand… it is against the CAA. We are in fact filing a case in the Supreme Court against the law,” he said, when asked about the party’s stand after the bill’s rules were announced, days before the Lok Sabha elections were announced.

When asked if it was not a “double standard” for the AGP to remain in the NDA and also oppose the CAA, Choudhury asserted that the regional party has never softened its stand on the issue.

“BJP is a national party and AGP is a regional party. Their goals and objectives are different from ours. It will not happen that we will support the CAA because we support the BJP. Therefore, our party has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the CAA and file a case, which is still pending,” he added.

Opposition candidates of Congress and CPI (M) in Barpeta are raising the CAA issue and accusing the AGP nominee of “betraying” public sentiment.

AGP had severed ties with the BJP in January 2019 over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, but returned to the NDA within two months and fought the Lok Sabha polls in Assam in alliance with the saffron party that year.

During the passage of the bill in December 2019, Birendra Prasad Baishya, the only AGP MP in the Rajya Sabha, opposed it during the discussion but voted in favor of it.

Amid hectic campaigning in rural areas of Abhayapuri in Barpeta Lok Sabha constituency, Choudhury slammed the opposition for contesting the elections “simply because time is passing by, because they don’t have any problem to talk about”.

“Whether it is the CPI(M) or the Congress, they are in the fray of blaming the government. The current dispensation is doing all-round development but the opposition is not talking about it,” he added.

The AGP candidate claimed that during his one and a half month long election campaign in every nook and cranny of the constituency, “not a single person has complained about price hike”.

There are nearly 19.8 lakh voters in Barpeta. Of them, over twelve lakh are Hindus and around seven lakh are Muslims.

Choudhury, however, added that when he first entered the contest in Barpeta, he estimated that his winning margin would be more than two lakh votes, but during his campaign he realized that minority voters were behind the NDA and will vote for him to vote.

He claimed that Muslim voters, especially the Bengali-speaking voters, have understood that Himanta Biswa Sarma’s government has worked for both Hindus and Muslims and there was no discrimination.

“A large part of Muslims now support us. Therefore, we hope that our margin will be more than five lakh votes,” he claimed.

Choudhury also opined that all opposition parties contesting separately in Barpeta will lead to division of anti-NDA votes, which will make his journey smoother.

From the opposition, the CPI (M) has appointed its senior leader and sole MLA in the assembly, Manoranjan Talukdar, from Barpeta. The Congress has nominated its state Seva Dal chief Deep Bayan, while the TMC has nominated Abul Kalam Azad for the seat.

Congress, CPI (M) and TMC are members of the United Opposition Forum Assam (UOFA), formed in the state with 16 parties aligned with the INDIA bloc.

Barpeta is currently represented by Congressman Abdul Khaleque, who had resigned from the party last month after being denied a ticket. However, he later withdrew the resignation after a meeting with party president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi.

Besides Barpeta, AGP is in the fray in Dhubri, where the party has nominated its former MLA Zabed Islam. (With PTI inputs)