CAB could Backfire on BJP with miffed NEDA partners weighing options
GUWAHATI: With the northeastern region uniting to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the political fallout could well be the breaking up of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) - a platform of non-Congress parties constituted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) just after it formed the government in Assam with the objective of making the region Congress-mukt (free of Congress Party rule).
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the biggest party in the NEDA, broke its alliance with BJP in Assam opposing the citizenship bill. Another partner, Nationalist People’s Party (NPP) in neighbouring Meghalaya, has started airing noises of discomfort in staying with the saffron brigade in the midst of the protests against the citizenship bill engulfing the entire region.
NPP is leading the six-party coalition government in Meghalaya where BJP is also a member.
“We were the first among all the states in northeast India to take a decisive stand against the citizenship bill by passing a state cabinet resolution. Now the time has come to take a relook at our partnership with the BJP since they have moved ahead with the bill,” said Conrad Sangma, chief minister of Meghalaya, to the media.
Another partner in NEDA, United Democratic Party (UDP), has also hinted that it could leave the alliance if the bill is ultimately passed in Parliament.
People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government in Nagaland which is composed of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and BJP, has asked the centre to re-examine the bill to ensure that it doesn’t violate the provisions enshrined in the Indian Constitution related to customary practices of Naga community.
In Mizoram, Mizo Nationalist Front (MNF), which swept to power in the recently held assembly polls, has already voiced its concern over the bill terming it as an attempt to provide citizenship to illegal migrants on the basis of religion.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga said that if passed, the bill will be harmful for states like Mizoram where large numbers Buddhist migrants from Bangladesh are staying illegally.
In Tripura also where BJP wrested power from the left front government last year in alliance with a tribal party called Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), differences have cropped up over the bill.
Several protesters were injured in clashes with the police in Tripura during an agitation against the citizenship bill. Some protesters sustained bullet injuries after the police opened fire at protesters as they blocked the NH-8 which connects Tripura with Assam. The protests were being carried out by the indigenous Tripura Students' Federation (TSF) as part of the day-long shutdown across the northeastern states called by the umbrella body North East Students' Organisation (NESO).
As BJP is planning to compensate the seats which it will lose in the north from northeastern region, the union government’s move of passing the controversial bill in the Lok Sabha could backfire in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.