Citizenship Amendment Bill a setback for saffron party in NE

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NESO opposes citizenship amendment bill 2016. File Photo.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government headed by Narendra Damodardas Modi will be seeking re-election for the second term through the upcoming Lok Sabha General Election due in couple of month. This time, more than presenting the Progress Report of their achievement, they will have to justified few thorny issues like the impact of Demonetization, Good and Services Tax, and of course recovering of Black Money in Swiss Bank, as all account holders are expecting Rs 15 lakhs as assured by Modi.

Yet another prickly issue, which can make and break the BJP, is the Ram Temple issue. Hence, taking one final stroke just before the Code of Conduct is imposed, NDA Government on January 29, 2019, moved the Supreme Court of India for giving a part of the 67 acres of undisputed land to Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and other original owners. The nod will pave the way for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, which is one of the manifestoes of the BJP during 2014 Lok Sabha Election.

Of course, the Indian National Congress (INC) was quick to react, seeking to remind the Centre of the Supreme Court’s 2003 directive about “observance of status quo” until the title dispute was finally adjudicated; status quo shall be maintained on all land including the undisputed land.  Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, responding to the Centre moving the apex court, questioned why after 16 years of stupor has the government suddenly woken up, that too with just two months remaining for the Lok Sabha elections?

Other issues like the Gau Rakshaks (Cow Protectors), which led to lynching caused by the fake “gau rakshaks”, kept destroying the social fabric and creating conflict in the society. Modi was quick to term such section of the society as Anti- Hindu.

Gau rakshaks and many Right-Wing organisations across the country have hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments against cow vigilantism, with the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) even thinking of sending him a legal notice, as they protested against the Prime Minister’s comment that 80% of those “masquerading” as ‘gau rakshaks’ were anti-socials by night.

ABHM National President, Chandraprakash Kaushik has hit out saying that Modi is not worthy of being Prime Minster, he will return just like Vajpayee had to in 2004. Hindu Mahasabha is holding Buddhi Shuddhi Yaga across India to give better sense to the PM.

The August 8, 2016 Indian Parliament session will be remembered as a Red Letter day for giving its nod to the constitutional amendment bill on a Goods and Services Tax (GST) in what is seen as the most radical indirect tax reform since Independence.

Also, in the case of Meghalaya in particular, and North East in general, the phobia of what might happen should the saffron party come to power seems to be turning into a reality. First, with the Ghar Wapsi (Home Coming), where a series of religious conversion activities organized by Indian Hindu organizations Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to convert non-Hindus to Hinduism became the subject of public discussion in 2014. It may be noted that both are strong supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) led NDA government of Narendra Modi. Now the BJP ruled states have openly banned slaughter of animals and sale of meat, thereby controlling what is on our dining tables, which has sparked off further controversy. The Goa government was strong enough to oppose the banning of beef, stating that it is a staple food.

This time the phobia is getting stronger due to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which picked up momentum from January 8, 2019, when the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha. The North Eastern region is spearheading the demand for the scrapping of the Bill while expressing fears that the implementation of the same will threaten the identity of the indigenous communities. Getting into damage control mode, the Union Home Ministry (MHA) on January 22, 2019 said that under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, nobody would be granted Indian citizenship without the consent of the respective state government.

During the last Assembly elections in the region, BJP claimed it will be Congress Mukht (Congress Free) exercises. But after January 8, due to the Bill, it is feared that it will turned out to be BJP Mukht for Lok Sabha election. As many as Eleven political parties from the North East region including Meghalaya have resolved to soon meet the President of India Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Lok Sabha recently. The resolution was adopted at the NE Region’s Political Parties’ Convention on the Citizenship Amendment Bill held at Guwahati, Assam on January 29, 2019.

If the opposing voices can be converted into votes, which means that all the 25 seats will not be for the BJP, who is expecting to capture 20+ seats. It may end up not winning even one seat due to the renewed phobia caused by the Citizenship Amendment Bill.