BJP’s Meteoric Rise set to Fall in Assam, NE Post Forceful CAA Implementation
The meteoric rise of the BJP in the northeastern states of India, specifically in Assam since 2014 when Modi wave swept across the country on the poll plank of development, presently stands on the verge of collapse as the fault lines have opened up on the issues of citizenship and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The northeastern states, especially Assam, erupted in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and set the tone for the countrywide protests against the contentious act.
BJP in Assam and other northeastern states tried to put up a brave front with Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma the crisis manager going hammer and tongs against the protestors and pushing up a case of colouring the agitators with one paint.
Notably, Sarma was instrumental in the rise of the saffron brigade in the region displaying his invincibility in politics in the seven states where state after state went into the BJP’s bag.
A graphical comparison of the political map during the period 2014-19 will give a clear picture of the situation with the BJP storming to power at the Centre in 2014 followed it up by winning a series of state assembly elections across the country.
In 2016, the BJP conquered Assam forming its first government in the region which was untouched by it since independence. Then Manipur and Tripura happened. In Mizoram and Meghalaya, the saffron brigade also became an active player in forming the government.
The party followed up with its strategy of creating a homogenous political identity in a region which is diversified to its core.
The saffron brigade started to push its mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) ideology in every sphere of life and the biggest friction started with the introduction of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The bill united the entire social and regional political class against it as the locals feared that the passage of the bill will pave the way for illegal migrants in the region to become Indian citizens which will change the demography completely.
Since then Assam has been on the cusp of a long drawn agitation. BJP put off the bill before the parliamentary elections, and came out with flying colours. The party somehow took the mandate as consent of the people to go ahead with the controversial bill.
But as it was passed in Parliament nearly a fortnight back, the fissures started to appear much more socially and the political class of opposition fished in the troubled waters.
Spontaneous protests in Assam against the Citizenship Act took an ugly turn as the ruling class remained defiant on the their stand on the bill.
The electoral arithmetic for the saffron brigade still remains intact as they have taken into their fold the regional parties like Asom Gana Parishad which is its ally in the Assam government.
The key strategist of the party Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is in the forefront of negating the agitation, tried to counter it by setting political narratives on the lines of ideology of his party.
The assembly elections are still two years away and senior BJP leaders are taking that chance and putting up a tough stance in line with its party high command at Delhi over the citizenship and NRC.
But the public mood appears to be on a different path. How much effect this will have on the electoral politics remains to be seen.
Politics is all about game of numbers, and whether the anger of protestors against the BJP government in the state will translate into anti votes remains to be seen.
However, if the signals emanating from the public mood in Assam are anything to go by, it looks like BJP is bracing for a tough fight ahead.