I have been researching upon the growing tension in Assam over the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act introduced by BJP in 2016. I already wrote one article on the issue for Daily O. The issue is yet to take center stage in national media, but it soon will. Meanwhile I am keenly following how it grows and keep a note here of the relevant media stories and opinion pieces. I will be regularly updating this blog post, so keep coming back.
The issue is complex and can be looked at from many angles, I am most keen to look at it from the perspective of how BJP’s Hindutva agenda is the root cause behind the tension in Assam and how they opened up the wounds and fault lines between Assamese and Bengalis that goes back to the traumatic days of partition. I wrote in my Daily O article titled, BJP’s failed Assam experiment shows it’s a good thing Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have any ‘agenda’
It is ironic that BJP is seeking votes in state after state on the same Hindutva plank, raising the dead like Jinnah, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan, insinuating that a former PM and a former vice-president are conspiring with Pakistan, manufacturing fake news to spread hate, fear, and violence; PM Modi in speech after speech in the most uncouth manner is attacking opposition in all sorts of frivolous fake grounds – yet it is this very Hindutva that is failing in Assam and unleashing utter chaos and possible violence.
People of Assam may have overwhelmingly voted for a Hindu nationalist party because of their internalised hate for one type of foreigner Bangladeshi immigrants, which was a major poll plank during both the election campaigns Lok Sabha elections in May 2014and Assam Assembly elections in May 2016. “Come May 16, Bangladeshi immigrants must pack up,” said Modi in one of his speeches. Now the foreigner has a new dimension to its identity “Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants”.
Indian Express opinion piece Anatomy of Anxiety by MP Bezbarua dated 22nd May:
MP Bezbaruah gave a summary of the anxiety Assamese people have always had regarding protecting their culture and language from “foreigners”, the dates back to the partition or even before that. Assam’s modern history is marked by fear of being dominated by Dhaka or Bengal he wrote. My observation here is that this fear of being dominated by outsider gives birth to right wing nationalism it is the same plank Hindutva groups use, fear of being dominated by Muslims.
Daily O report Citizenship Amendment Bill — What is it the Assamese fear the most by Ankush Saikia:
Ankush Saikia writes that even Assam state BJP unit and BJP CM are against the bill introduced by the BJP government at the center. People of Assam are now reminding Modi of his biggest poll plank before 2014 election that is to send back illegal Bangladeshis. Now that center is trying to send back only Muslims and keep the Hindus which is not only unconstitutional being violative of Art 14 but also against the interest of Assam’s linguistic nationality and indigenous people and culture. Assam’s cultural and linguistic identity trumps BJP’s Hindutva identity.
BJP Chief Amit Shah was in Guwahati for the 3rd NEDA meet and to discuss 2019 election, outside the event venue thousands of people from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) were protesting. NDTV reported that KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi was arrested ahead of Shah’s visit. On 20th May ANI reported that “Police arrested around 200 members of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti while they were protesting, against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, near the meeting venue of North-East Democratic Alliance in Guwahati. BJP President Amit Shah is also participating in the meeting. Social media is also flooded with photos of people wearing black badges with placards saying “Go Back Amit Shah.” Popular Twitter profiles which were staunch supporters of BJP before 2014 general elections and Assam assembly elections in 2016, who were known Muslim haters and made vile abusive anti-Muslim communal tweets are now telling people not to vote for BJP in 2019.
However Amit Shah and other BJP leaders are either skirting the issue or trying to put brave face, pretending it’s nothing to worry about for 2019. Other BJP leaders are now trying to claim that we didn’t fight the elections on the plank of protecting indigenous people but Indians, if we talk of indigenous then we become exclusionary, we exclude Indian people, Hindi speaking Bengali speaking people. The citizenship amendment bill is not Assam specific, it is a bill for all India, NDTV reported.
The most curious factor for in all this is that BJP’s core Hindutva is being challenged using Article 14 right to equality, BJP allies themselves are telling the central govt that we are a secular country, cannot have this communal bill.
NDTV reported, “Give Up Citizenship Bill, It’s A Threat”: Asom Gana Parishad To Amit Shah
“We are strongly opposed to the Bill as it violates the clauses of the Assam Accord which was signed after six years of agitation in which 855 people had sacrificed their lives,” Mr Bora said.
If the bill is passed, it will ‘”threaten the identity of the indigenous people, change the demographic pattern of the state and there should be no division on the basis of religion”, he pointed out.
Ironic. Telling. Lesson for BJP.
To be cont:
(Featured image: time8.in)