CAB becoming a Law: 1st Time City Voters Weigh Voting Options
Every year, several millions of people turn 18 and become eligible to cast their votes in India. If numbers are to be believed, there are approximately 10 crore first-time voters who will decide the fate of the nation during the 2019 polls.
First-time voters are a very important group for any party. The new age voters are often more informed, updated and connected; they are better educated and more tech-savvy than the rest of the voters in the family. Their understanding of voting is often disconnected from the established political leanings of the family. The new age voters often tend to grow up as loyal party members.
But with the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 making the noise, Assam is sure to face a turbulent situation during the elections.
G Plus tried to find out what the first-time voters have to say about CAB 2016 and what they look forward to:
"I belong from a Hindu Bengali family and I truly oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Because of the bill, we are facing many threats from people who do not have any idea about the issue and the content in the bill. I do not want any communal riots among our own people." - Sanghamitra Sarkar
"The Citizenship Amendment Bill is firmly opposed by all indigenous Assamese people, including me. Assamese people have never opposed the co-existence of the various tribes in Assam but will not support any action that will take away the political rights from the hands of the indigenous people. The bill is even against the Constitution of India." - Tripti Kana Bhuyan
"I strongly oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill and do not want it to be passed in the Rajya Sabha. The bill violates the Assam Accord. There is no doubt that Assam has already faced a lot of issues including terrorism and disputes over Bodoland. Now with this bill, situations have become worse. Assam and India at large are already overpopulated. Indigenous people are deprived of basic rights. Giving legal citizenship to illegal immigrants will only worsen the situation. Moreover, the bill has become a communal issue. The BJP government is using the bill for political benefits and the immigrants as a vote bank. The peace of the state has been harmed and more Hindu-Muslim, Assamese-Bengali rivalry is being seen. My opinion is irrespective of my religion or community. This is based on just one fact - I am an Assamese Indian." - Sabir Hussain
"The bill is a national bill which is not confined only to Assam. Since thousands of years, India has been giving refuge to people whose lives are in threat, be it Parsis of Iran, Jews of the Middle East or the Tibetans of Tibet. When Mohammad Ali Jinnah created the Islamic state of Pakistan, he gave an assurance to non-Muslims that they will have equal rights. However, in course of time, it has been realized that this promise was a false one and Pakistan and Bangladesh were countries where religious minorities were in severe threat of being wiped out altogether. Since the present-day area of Pakistan and Bangladesh were parts of the civilization of India for at least 5,000 years, it is our duty as Indians to provide citizenship to the persecuted religious minorities on the lines of the Nehru-Liaquat Agreement.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill will ensure that Assam remains a Hindu-majority state for 10 more years. The demographic change in Assam, due to which Hindu population is declining at a rapid pace of 3-4% every 10 years, is shocking and unprecedented by world standards." - Sagarika Das, B Borooah College
"If the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed, the identity of Assamese people will face a serious threat. The consequences will severely affect the language and culture of the state. A whole lot of illegal immigrants will move to Assam to take shelter. Like Late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika had once said, the Assamese people will become isolated in their own land. The bill will lead to serious riots among the people of all languages and cultures in the state of Assam."- Nikita Deka
"As a student, I oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill has pressurized the indigenous people. The government has not been capable of giving establishment to the indigenous Assamese people, and now it is planning to bring in more immigrants to the state. If the bill is passed, there will be disputes on religious grounds. The government has started to divide the state on the basis of religion and this is not acceptable. I also oppose the bill because the passing of the bill will only mean the end of the Assamese community. The people of the state have given power to the government, but they should not misuse that power. They should utilize the power for the betterment of the state. The government is trying to cheat on the people using the slogan "Jaati, Maati, Bheti." But they should not forget that we students are ready to sacrifice our lives for our motherland." - Irsadul Majej
"The Citizenship Amendment Bill was initially known as the Citizenship Act, 1955. Since then, the bill was amended several times in history and no opposition on such a big scale was seen towards any amendment till date. The Constitution of India consists of 6 fundamental rights. The Constitution is very flexible but there cannot be any changes that will violate the fundamental rights. In my opinion, the bill should not be passed as it violates the fundamental rights. Moreover, there is no evidence of complaints from the Bangladeshis that they are not living in peace in their own land and they want to migrate to India. Moreover, these people won't be given citizenship immediately after entering Assam. So, it is clearly evident that these people are being used as vote banks. The BJP government has not been able to fulfill the promises they made to the masses. In turn, they are trying to divert the attention of the people from all their failures ahead of the election." - Prerna Das
"I strongly oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill. I oppose the fact the government is trying to give citizenship to the people who have been identified as illegal immigrants in the NRC. The bill will not only bring threat to the Assamese identity but also divide the secular country that India is. The bill will disrespect and destroy the sacrifice made by 855 martyrs. Moreover, if the bill is passed, it is inevitable that Assam will forever have to bear the burden of illegal immigrants. If the bill is passed, Assam will face a situation like that in Tripura, and this has given rise to a sense of fear in the hearts of all the Assamese people. This bill is also a major threat to Assamese language, culture, and identity." - Subrata Baruah
"As a first-time voter, I feel that, if the bill is implemented, the rights of the indigenous people of Assam and northeast will be destroyed. By executing this bill, the BJP government is trying to divide the nation on religious grounds and starting politics of vote bank. So, we as voters of the nation, strongly believe that this bill which goes against our Constitution, should not be passed. Even after seeing the crucial situation of the state, if the BJP government brings the bill to law, as a first-time voter, I will be forced to eradicate BJP from my list." - Jasmine Sultana
"As a responsible citizen and as a first voter, it is very important that we choose a good representative from the ground level itself. Rather than focusing on the party, we should ensure that we choose an individual who stands for the people. And considering the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill, voting for BJP won’t be wise. The party has put the interest of the indigenous people of Assam at risk. Even if they have capable MP, MLA representatives, yet the party’s policy will force the representatives to speak in support of the party. So, it wouldn’t be wise to vote for the same." - Tina Choudhury
“As a first-time voter, I hope that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is no way implemented. If we see from the democratic point of view, the bill in many places talks about religion. And India being a secular country, will not accept any bill which will divide the people on religious grounds. The bill opposes the Constitution, which is why I feel the bill should never come to power. We cast our valuable votes expecting a leader who will work with the people and for the people. But today I stand in a position, whereas a first-time voter, I need to think twice before casting my vote. I am worried who to elect, who will stand by us, who will do good to us and who will prove us wrong. As a first time voter, I also expect to have leaders on board, who can work for the state and the people in a real sense, and not for any political benefits. It is unfortunate that today we can’t say that our state or our country is in the correct hands. We, the first time voters, expect to elect a person who can think of the people before his or her selfish interests." - Madhusmita Das
“This government still has some time until the elections. Before casting my vote, I’d reflect on all the work the government has done since it came to power. The votes of the young people are going to make a big impact. We will have to check the consequences of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and at the same time, we cannot deny or overlook the work that the party has done in Assam. All these factors will play major roles in this election. There was a time when people ignored to register their names as eligible voters. Today, people are aware of their rights and they know how important their votes are. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is going to affect the culture and identity of the indigenous people, and most importantly, it is going to affect the employment sector.” - Anwesha Mahanta
“For a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic nation like India, a bill like Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 is derogating the very essence of the Indian Constitution and the Preamble. It definitely violates Article 14 (Right to Equality) and secularism has been crushed. As a first time voter, I have to think several times before I cast my votes as I don’t want it to get wasted. As I prepare myself to cast my vote, I expect to get a leader who can lead the citizens towards holistic development of all.” - Nazifa Shahin
"I believe that as a first-time voter, am ought to be more responsible as to whom I should cast my vote. As a youth, I expect our leader to stress problems and issues like employment, healthcare, etc. The Citizenship Amendment Bill is an attack on the demography and identity of Assam. Assamese people will never accept to be a minority in their own place. There are so many tribes in the state, who are already obsessed to ascertain their roots in Assam. The migrants are majorly Bengali speakers. And Assam will never accept another language to rule here." - Mahboob Akram Mazumdar
"I strongly oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill. As stated in the Indian Constitution, India is a secular country and this amendment bill is directly violating the statement. This bill also violates the National Registration of Citizenship process. A lot of time and effort have been put into the NRC process. It has been going on since June 2015 to date and finally when the process has reached a stage of near-completion, the CAB is trying to render the whole process invalid. Overpopulation has always been a jinx in the growth and development of Assam and overloading people, as a result of the amendment bill, will only contribute to the ongoing outburst. The ongoing feud between the political parties of Assam has barred the state's development. By casting my vote, I hope to end such meaningless quarrels over power and authority. I expect my fellow Assamese brothers to reassess their priorities and together make a combined effort for the betterment of the state." - Chinmoy Medhi
"Every single vote matters here, which is why I want the elected leaders to understand the consequences of the state. We are not against any particular religion, but we need to realize that if Assam is filled with immigrants, our culture would end. I strongly oppose Narendra Modi for showing his support towards the bill. A country with 1.34 billion people must not think of passing a bill to take in more immigrants. Assam is a small state and it can no way take the burden of any more people. Indigenous people are almost reduced to a minority. The process of NRC and the sacrifices that led to the Assam Accord will turn futile. A civilized individual will never support such a bill." - Rinji Kalita