The intensified protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), particularly from the North Eastern region, does not seem to reach the ear of the Central government, even as few of the senior leaders of the BJP have refused to acknowledge that the agitations against the Bill will affect their vote bank in the upcoming Lok Sabha general elections. Further causing displeasure is Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s appeal to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) to support the Bill in Parliament to give the refugees living in India the right to citizenship.
Modi, speaking at the rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, North 24 Parganas district, home to the Dalit Matua community, elucidated that India is the only place that can provide shelter to thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and refugees of other communities, who came from neighbouring countries to save themselves from communal violence.
While appealing to TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee and her leaders to support the Bill and help the refugee brothers and sisters to get their rights, Modi justified that after the country was divided during Independence, thousands of people including the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis had to take shelter in India due to communal violence, these refugees should get the right to citizenship. India is the only place that can provide them shelter.
Modi, in further defense, stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government has come up with Citizenship Amendment Bill- the Lok Sabha has already cleared the Bill, which is now pending in the Rajya Sabha is just to help the refugee brothers and sisters to get their rights.
Here is the core issue where the agitating groups from the region termed the CAB as a highly divisive and discriminatory bill that contradicts the government’s actions with National Registration(NRC), Assam. The protestors argued that the implications of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) are wide-ranging and need to be looked into not only from the lens of the state of Assam (as is the case right now) but through its wider implications for the Indian polity especially it’s incongruity with the inherently secular nature of the Indian state and Constitution.
While the way the Bills are being bulldozed, not taking into consideration of the sentiments of the masses, particularly from the people of North Eastern region, only exposed the double standard of the Modi government, where on one hand it assures that India needs inclusive growth and the region is an important component, where as in the case of CAB, their voices are not reaching the ears of the same government who assured comprehensive growth and development.
The protest against the CAB have already taken to the National Capital represented not only by the political leaders, pressure groups, but also the representation of head of states, where just few managed to have an audience with the Prime Minister, the rest have to be content with the meeting amongst several National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies to appeal for opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in the national capital on February 1, 2019.
The delegation led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Kongkal Sangma, who is also the convenor for the NE Region’s Political Parties’ Convention on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), met with different NDA party allies including the Shiv Sena, JD(U), Akali Dal, Lok Janshakti Party and appealed to them to support the cause of the people wherein the parties of the north east have opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The north east region’s political parties including president of AGP Atul Bora and former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, leaders of UDP including its president Dr Donkupar Roy and host of other party functionaries were expecting their concerned will be heard. But the appeal of Modi to TMC Chief to support the Bill will surely case a shadow towards the marriage of convenience (read as allies), as they will be forced to withdraw their respective support.
Of course the NDA is about to complete the five-year term; it will be interesting to witness how they seek vote once the Code of Conduct is imposed.