The January 4th conclave in Khanapara on CAA was an extraordinary event as over 75000 hardcore BJP workers assembled from different parts of the State. The conclave graced by BJP working president JP Nadda, national general secretary Ram Madhav, State chief minister Sarbanand Sonowal, State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma put rest to all the concerns surrounding CAA.
- NJ Thakuria
Assam, more precisely its Brahmaputra valley, is in the news for relentless protests against the Centre’s citizenship amendment act 2019 (CAA) for many months now. The outbursts of anti-CAA demonstrators may put someone in baffle if the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) would ever gain support from the electorate. But few recent rallies of the saffron party in the Brahmaputra valley itself depicted a different picture altogether.
BJP’s State unit in association with their political allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) had already organized peace rallies (read pro-CAA gathering) at Nalbari, Sarbhog (Barpeta), Jagiroad and Sualkuchi with massive supports from the people. Saffron leaders have also plans to go for similar rallies in eastern Assam, where the intensity of anti-CAA movements remain intact, unlike the Barak valley along with the western localities. The recent one at Khanapara on 4 January, termed as the party’s booth-level conclave, was really an extraordinary event as over 75000 hardcore BJP workers assembled from different parts of the State.
The conclave, graced by BJP working president JP Nadda, national general secretary Ram Madhav, State chief minister Sarbanand Sonowal, State minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, etc, established that saffron members have come out of all traumas because of CAA rows. Nadda, starting his speech in Assamese chant ‘Joi Aai Asom’, assured the audience that the Centre is committed for the development of Assam & other northeastern States, as well as safeguarding the language & indigenous cultures of the residents. He strongly criticized theopposition Congress party for trying to misuse the anti-CAA stir for their vote-bank politics.
Alleging the Congress leaders for spreading misinformation about the CAA across the country, Nadda reiterated that only those who entered the country on or before 31 December 2014 due to religious persecutions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh would be able to get citizenship with the CAA arrangements. He appreciated the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah for showing the guts for those asylum seekers. Sonowal targeted both the Congress and Left parties for spreading misinformation about the CAA that over one crore Hindu Bangladeshi nationals would be settled in Assam. He promised that as an indigenous person he would not do anything harm to the people. The government in Dispur had submitted its necessary recommendations to the Centre with an aim to safeguard the interest of locals, he stated.
North-East Democratic Alliance convener Sarma asserted that the number of beneficiaries because of CAA arrangements in Assam would never cross five lakh. Lambasting the anti-national elements who spread wrong information that crores of Bangladeshi nationals would be settled in Assam after the CAA comes into effect, the outspoken politician declared that he would leave the politics (if the number goes above five lakh in the State). Sarma claimed that people of the country have full faiths on the saffron party and they would get not less than 100 seats in the 126-member State Assembly polls scheduled for 2021.
Commenting on anti-CAA protests, Sarma stated that the government has no problem with peaceful & democratic movements. But if anyone was pursuing the dream of political gains out of the agitations, Sarma asserted that they would respond it politically. Criticizing former State chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta for accepting the deadline (to detect and deport the illegal migrants from Assam) of 1971 as he was one of the signatories to the memorandum of understanding (later emerged as Assam Accord) in 1985 with the Centre, Sarma termed him as a traitor. He cautioned Mahanta that the electorate of his Assembly constituency would not elect him this time.
Meanwhile, the agitating All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parisahd (AJYCP) and a section of performing artistes have hinted to form a political party eying the forthcoming State Assembly elections. Even though the agitators are waiting for the Supreme Court’s directive as another hearing (on CAA) is on 22 January, they have virtually declared that a new regional party is coming to exist as an alternative to the BJP.
AASU’s adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya, president Dipanka Nath and general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi remain confident that the electorate would reject the saffron party in coming polls. Many Assamese academicians, lawyers, writers, media personalities etc have already extended their supports for the party even though another anti-CAA force Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti still maintains silence over the matter. The proposed party has however drawn the attention of the Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), where former State chief minister Tarun Gogoi appreciated the idea and even announced that the Congress would go for an alliance with the new party. He was followed by AIUDF supremo Badrauddin Ajmal to extend supports for the proposed party with an aim to defeat the saffron party in the coming elections.