Rifts in Political Parties over Citizenship (Amendment) Act
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) has not only ignited stirs across Assam and the country but it has also successfully created rifts in many political parties.
Talking particularly about Assam, all is not well in the parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
The state BJP leadership was compelled to postpone the booth sammelan which was slated to be organised on 24th December where around 14,000 booth presidents and around 400 mandals were expected to meet. Booth sammelan is considered an important meeting for the party which is organised to understand the issues of the state booth-wise.
A highly placed source in the BJP talking to G Plus said that on 19th December there was a booth sammelan preparation meeting organised at the BJP headquarters in Hengrabari which was attended by even BJP members of parliament and state ministers.
“The office does not have the kind of rush it used to have before. Many BJP members in the state are not happy,” said the source.
The source also revealed that around 16 BJP MLAs met the chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on 19th December after the booth sammelan preparation meeting, to express their angst regarding the whole issue of CAA.
“The chief minister was asked by the MLAs to discuss with the public and the agitating groups to ease the situation,” said the source adding that accordingly a press conference was organised by the chief minister on the morning of 20th December.
The source said that the BJP representatives of many constituencies are worried about losing people’s trust in their constituencies if the Assamese people are not given what they are seeking for.
Actor turned politician Jatin Bora quit the BJP as soon as the act was passed in the Parliament.
Along with BJP, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is also facing the wrath of its members as the AGP members are protesting across the state against its leadership which supported the citizenship act in the Parliament.
Former chief minister of Assam and an MLA of BJP ally AGP, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta expressed his disappointment over the decision of his party to vote in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Act) while it was being passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to media in Guwahati, the former chief minister said, "It was unfortunate that we voted in favour of Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha."
Mahanta also told the media that the prime minister and home minister should think about the people of Assam and the act should not be implemented here. “We will not allow this act in Assam,” he told the media.
In a face saving act, the AGP, which had supported the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Parliament, has now decided to oppose it. The party has also moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The decision was taken in a crucial meeting of the AGP. In the meeting, the party decided to oppose the Citizenship Act. The party leaders have also decided to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The AGP's decision to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has come days after the party extended its support in Parliament. Since then, the AGP had been faced with severe backlash back home in Assam which is also witnessing protests and violence since the Bill has been passed.
Birendra Prasad Baishya, the lone Rajya Sabha member of the AGP, registered his opposition to the Bill in Rajya Sabha, saying that it would cause grave threat to the language and culture of the people of Assam but later voted in favour of the bill.
Baishya’s move irked many indigenous Assamese people who backed AGP only for the ideology of regionalism.
The AGP is claiming they will rethink on the alliance with BJP, but the fact remains that they have already supported the BJP in the Parliament exposing their power hungry motives.
Talking about Congress in Assam, there is a divided opinion. The Barak Valley Congress leaders are in favour of the act whereas the leaders of the Brahmaputra Valley are openly opposing it.
In the national political scene, parties like AIADMK and JDS are also facing rifts.
The support offered by the AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha members to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (now act), played a pivotal role in the passage of the controversial legislation. AIADMK legislator SR Balasubramoniyan, better known as SRB, who spoke in favour of the Bill in the Upper House, said compulsions of alliance were behind the ruling party’s support for the act.
He also said that there was indirect pressure from the BJP which compelled AIADMK to vote in favour of the controversial act. The AIADMK leadership was later criticized by many party members for the decision.
There are many other political parties which faced rifts and fissures within themselves over the CAA.