Citizenship big issue in Barak Valley, CAA key to resolving it: BJP’s Parimal Suklabaidya

Silchar (Assam), Apr 23 (PTI) Citizenship has been a major issue in the two Lok Sabha constituencies of Barak Valley, and the CAA will go a long way in resolving it, BJP’s Silchar (SC) candidate and Assam minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.

The BJP took steps to bring in a law, which will help people who came to the valley from Bangladesh, he told PTI in an interview.

In the two constituencies, which share a 129-km border with Bangladesh, there is a sizeable population of Hindu Bengalis, displaced from the neighbouring country, who entered the valley over a period of time.

“The Citizenship (Amendment) Act was enacted as a law by Parliament, but soon after the framing of the rules, the Model Code of Conduct came into force and not much work could be done in this regard,” Suklabaidya, the Minister for Excise, Transport and Fisheries, said.

The citizenship problem was created due to partition, and no political party took any step to solve it for 70 years, he claimed.

“It is true that some people are finding it difficult to apply online, and there are issues related to submission of documents, but Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been apprised of the matter. He has assured that the process will be simplified after the MCC is lifted,” the BJP leader said.

“Problems may arise in its implementation, but we are committed to resolving those,” Suklabaidya said, adding that political parties were making “unnecessary noise” over the matter.

All the bottlenecks will be taken care of in the next six to eight months, with support from the state government, he said.

Opposition parties have alleged that many people were not applying on the CAA portal, as they have to upload relevant documents issued by Bangladesh to prove they were displaced from that country.

Communication and connectivity were the other key issues in the Barak Valley, the BJP nominee said.

Suklabaidya said it was former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had taken the initiative for the East-West Corridor from Silchar to Gujarat, but after that the Congress government was in power for 10 years and it “neglected” the project.

“After Narendra Modi became the prime minister in 2014, he took up the initiative again and the project is nearing completion. It will help in reducing the travel time to the state capital to a great extent,” he said.

The BJP government is also setting up a ‘mini secretariat’ here, which will be completed before the 2026 assembly elections, the minister said.

The saffron party has taken steps to utilise the waterways in the valley and develop air connectivity, with a “green airport” set to come up here, Suklabaidya said.

He alleged that during the Congress rule, Barak Valley’s mainstay Cachar Paper Mills was closed down, but after the BJP came to power in Assam, “we solved the problems of the employees, paying them their dues”.

“The government is also planning to set up a large industry or a group of small industries on its land, which will provide employment to the youths of the valley, who usually have to go outside for employment,” the BJP leader said.

During the last three years, the BJP government in the state has given jobs to lakhs of people, Suklabaidya asserted.

The tea gardens are also a major contributor to the economy here, and during the many decades of Congress rule, the condition of the workers “deteriorated with low wages. The BJP government has doubled the wages in the last few years”, he said.

“Most of the key issues faced by people of the Barak Valley have been addressed during the 10 years of the BJP government at the centre and eight years in the state,” Suklabaidya added.