Conrad Sangma’s ambivalence on CAA gives Oppn ammunition against him – aabtak24

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Guwahati , Feb 12, 2023, IANS

Guwahati, Feb 12 (IANS): As the poll dates approach in Meghalaya, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has emerged as a talking point among the leaders of different political parties.

The tribal state has nearly 80 per cent of its population practising Christianity, and moreover, the Khasi tribal people were always uncomfortable with the BJP’s idea of introducing CAA and giving citizenship to the Hindu Bengalis.

As Meghalaya shares a long border with Bangladesh, infiltration has always been a political issue in the state. After the passage of the CAA in Parliament, Conrad Sangma, National People’s Party (NPP) chief and former ally of the BJP, had looked very upset and there was tension between the two allies.

Though the alliance continued until the elections were announced, Sangma was never comfortable after the passage of the CAA.

The Khasi people opposed it, and demanded the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya. However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s ministry in Delhi was reluctant to introduce the ILP there, and Conrad believed that the CAA and the post-political atmosphere tarnished his image.

Now, with the elections knocking at the door, opposition parties including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress have raked up the CAA issue.

They are using it as a tool to damage Conrad Sangma’s appeal among Khasi voters. Sangma’s party was accused of “complicity” in the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Parliament in 2019, by the opposition Congress.

Congress leader Ronnie V. Lyngdoh said, “All regional parties are culpable, they cannot wash their hands, and they are working hand in glove to guarantee CAB becomes an Act in Parliament.” If the NPP had truly opposed the CAA and put the interests of the people of Meghalaya first, they should have left the central government, he said.

Lyngdoh also claimed that in December 2019, a formal resolution opposing the CAB was approved by all 60 MLAs in the Meghalaya Assembly. However, NPP MP from Tura, Agatha Sangma, who is the sister of NPP national president and chief minister Conrad K. Sangma, offered her support to the CAB when Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the bill in Parliament.

“NPP leaders are concerned only about their positions,” the Congress leader alleged.

Meanwhile, the NPP tried to portray its primary opposition Trinamool Congress as a Bengali-dominated party and said the state will be run from Kolkata if the TMC is voted to power. Sangma’s men tagged the Trinamool leaders as ´┐Żoutsiders’.

Reacting to these allegations, the Trinamool is also using the CAA as a weapon and launching a scathing attack on Conrad Sangma.

Fernandez S. Dkhar, the state youth leader of the Meghalaya TMC, asked, “In 2019, who supported the Citizenship Amendment Bill? It wasn’t TMC; it was NPP. Mamata Banerjee, our chairman in West Bengal, organised a sizable protest against this law that discriminates against indigenous people.”

He alleged that the NPP is in favour of Bangladeshis because the whole point of the CAA is to attract oppressed minorities from Bangladesh and other surrounding nations into the country.

Although Conrad Sangma is fighting the election without forging an alliance with the BJP, the saffron party’s stand on the CAA issue has continued to haunt the Meghalaya Chief Minister when he is eyeing a straight second term in office.

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