Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi for the second time reaffirmed the intention of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government to pass the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) but assured the people of the North Eastern (NE) region that it will ensure that the legislation does not cause any harm to Assam and its neighbouring states. He is unfazed by the protests and resistance which have reached the National Capital, and most of the Alliance partners are contemplating to snap ties with Modi government if Rajya Sabha passes the bill.
It may be recalled that the first time Modi had expressed the intent to bring in the CAB was when he appealed 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. Not taking cognisance that the agitations against the Bill will affect their vote bank in the upcoming Lok Sabha general elections, he made a public appeal at the rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, North 24 Parganas district, home to the Dalit Matua community. He 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.
Modi’s three state visit in the region – Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, just before the Election Commission announces the poll date for the 17th Lok Sabha had once again exposed that he is one Leader who will not be deterred by any protests. When it comes to National interest, be it demonetization, Goods and Services Tax, Triple Talaq to Reservation and now CAB, he wishes to have one uniform Law for the whole nation, and not focusing on a particular region or sector.
Whereas, Nagaland government on February 10, 2019 appealed to civil society organisations to reconsider the 10-hour statewide shutdown on February 11 in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The coordination committee of tribal hohos (associations), civil society organisations, various committees and mass-based organisations under the aegis of the Nagaland Gaon Burhas Federation (NGBF) said in a release that the strike has been called to protest the planned passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Rajya Sabha. The opposition Naga People’s Front is supporting the dawn to dusk shutdown.
While the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma, has resolved to snap ties with the BJP-led NDA if the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha. Sangma rushed to New Delhi on Sunday evening to meet leaders of those political parties who have promised to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill if it is tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
The NPP is supporting the BJP-led government in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, the People’s Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland and the BJP in Meghalaya.
In the case of Assam, ruled by BJP, witnessed yet another nude protest on February 9, 2019 when a group of six persons stripped off their clothes and marched in front of the state secretariat at Dispur, shouting slogans against the Citizenship bill. The incident took place prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally at Changsari, around 50 km away from Dispur. The Prime Minister was in the state to inaugurate several developmental projects including laying of foundation stone of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) at Changsari.
Modi, during his NE tour, has rewarded the BJP ruled states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. Whereas, the remaining states, who were protesting against the CAB, were turned into an onlooker. This has compelled the political parties (except the BJP) to seek vote just to oppose the bill whereas the electorates are also expected to cast their vote against it, turning it as the core agenda for the 2019 LS poll in the North Eastern region.