Poor PR exercise

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Poor PR exercise

Swapnil Bharali | January 27, 2019 10:39 hrs


The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) and its attempted enactment into a law seem to be coming across as a rather poor exercise in public relations by the government. With just Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma taking up the cudgels of being the government spokesperson and the rest of his colleagues including the chief minister having been strangely silent until very recently, the picture being thrown up is one of arrogance by a care-a-damn bully. There has been virtually no attempt by the government, fondly sworn into power with overwhelming majority, to open some communication channels with the masses that would convey the “prudent” intentions of the CAB with regard to the protection of Assamese interests. Resultantly, what is happening is mass misunderstanding of the government’s supposedly good intent that is making the ruling leaders look like despicable turncoats.

 

Take the case of one committed AASU activist whose understanding of the CAB I tried to gauge. When I asked him what exactly he understood about the CAB given the current situation of the state in all its practicalities, he replied that the Bill sought to give citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshi nationals and this was not acceptable to him as it violated the Assam Accord. He made an interesting analogy saying, “Look Dada, if some day I find a snake in my house, what do you expect me to do? Kill it myself or get a mongoose in the hope that it will kill the snake?”

Now these are the doubts floating around en masse with which the emotions are running high. And the disturbing thing is that the government is billowing arrogance rather than kindness and this is coupled with a total lack of attempt to educate the masses about the any virtues that the CAB might have. Dr Himanta’s speech at the Sarusajai Stadium (while felicitating the gram panchayat winners) was more a personal attack on his critics - a rant that seemed to come from pent up anger. It easily could have been filled with sympathy and kindness with a genuine attempt at showing some love towards the indigenous population of the state.

 

We Assamese are a hospitable lot. Moromiyal. Soft spoken. We are unlike the loudness of north India. A better PR exercise, if undertaken even now, will surely soften the general stance towards the CAB.

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