On the eve of publication of the final draft of the NRC, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, has accused BJP led Assam government’s coalitaion partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) of misguiding the people of Assam and using the illegal migrants issue for political gain for over three decades.
Saikia mentioned that after AGP formed the government in 1985 following signing of the Assam Accord, an ‘intensive revision’ of the electoral rolls of Assam was undertaken under the supervision of the Election Commission of India.
The state election authorities carried out a second ‘special revision’ of the electoral rolls in 1990 under EC guidelines. The then Chief Minister from AGP, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, is on record as having told The Sentinel newspaper on October 05, 1990, that the corrected electoral rolls were “OK” and that he was “satisfied”.
Despite Mahanta’s ‘satisfaction’ with the electoral rolls of 1990, in 1997 it was deemed necessary by the United Front government at the Centre and AGP government in the state to undertake yet another ‘intensive revision’ of the electoral rolls of Assam. This was when the concept of ‘D’ (Dubious or Doubtful) voters was introduced. This concept of ‘doubtful voter’ (actually, doubtful citizen) exists in no other state or Union territory in India. Initially, about 3,70,000 ‘D’ voter cases had been referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, but the number came down to 1,45,227 by 2014.
The leader of opposition in Assam, Saikia mentioned that according to the White Paper published by the Home and Political Department of the Assam government in 2012, a total of 61,774 people, including 6590 ‘D’ voters, were declared as foreigners by various Foreigners Tribunals between 1985 and 2012.
Saikia said that AGP pretends to be oblivious to such facts and data and, instead, prefers to misguide the people of Assam by highlighting the alleged threat posed by illegal migrants. He said that the concept of ‘D’ voters which started during the AGP’s tenure has now become a source of misery for not only bona-fide citizens belonging to the linguistic and religious minority communities but also to groups such as the Koch-Rajbongshis.
“ The AGP leaders are turning a blind eye to the plight of these people and they will betray the people of Assam in the context of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as well, because their deeds are already at odds with their speech”, Saikia added.