On a whirlwind tour of the Northeast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday addressed rallies in three states, assuring that the citizenship bill won't harm the interests of the people of the region but will provide succour to those who have "embraced the idea and ethos of Mother India".
Though Modi sought to assuage fears in Assam and the northeast over the bill, in Meghalaya BJP's coalition partner National Peoples Party (NPP) threatened to quit the NDA if the proposed legislation is passed in Rajya Sabha.
At a meeting of party leaders of four northeastern states, the NPP adopted a resolution to oppose the bill and break its ties with the NDA if it is passed," NPP president and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said.
Addressing a rally at Changsari in the assembly constituency of Assam Health minister and BJP-led NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, Modi said, "It is a national commitment to the people of the Northeast that they will not be harmed in any way and citizenship will be only granted after due investigations and recommendations of the state governments."
It must be understood that there is a difference between those who forcefully entered the country and those who were "forced to flee their homes to save their lives due to their religion. Both are not the same", he said.
"We are committed to providing shelter to those minorities - Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Sikhs- in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who had to leave everything due to atrocities inflicted on them. They have come to our country and have embraced the idea and ethos of Mother India," the prime minister added.
He also alleged that there are certain sections which have taken the country to the path of ruin and are now trying to "mislead people on the citizenship issue for their self interests leading to misunderstanding. It is necessary to know these people who sit in Delhi and oppose us in Parliament. They should have come here today to see what the reality is".
The citizenship bill is awaiting clearance in the Upper House of Parliament where the ruling coalition is short of numbers.
The bill which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangaldesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has triggered widespread protests in Assam and other northeastern states, including those under the rule of BJP and its NEDA allies.
Modi's visit to Assam saw nude protests, a bandh, raising of black flags and burning of effigies by AASU, KMSS and other organisations agitating against the bill.
Modi further said that the BJP was fully committed to implement the 36-year old Assam Accord and a committee on the implementation of the Clause 6 of the Accord is a step in that direction.
It may be mentioned here that several members of the committee have opted out of it.
Modi also said the NDA government is committed to protecting the language, culture, resources, hopes and aspirations of the people of Assam and the committee will take this into consideration while making the report.
Without naming the Congress, Modi alleged that it was "not sincere in implementing the accord".
"The accord was signed 36 years ago but is yet to be implemented. They have done injustice to the people of Assam. Let me assure you that our government will implement the accord in letter and spirit," he added.
Referring to the problem of infiltration, Modi said his government was committed to complete the work of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is being conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court, within the stipulated period.
"The BJP is committed to solve the infiltration issue and will complete the sealing of the Indo-Bangla border at the earliest," he said.
In Arunachal Pradesh, though opposition Congress staged protests over the bill during his visit, Modi did not speak on the citizenship bill and kept himself to development issues of the northeast.
He inaugurated and laid foundation of projects worth Rs 4,000 crore in Arunachal Pradesh.
On the last leg of his visit, Modi reached Tripura capital Agartala and hit at the opposition, calling its proposed alliance as "mahamilavat" (great adulteration) whose leaders' main job was to compete in an Olympics of hurling abuses at him.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)