Guwahati, May 24 (IANS) The saffron surge which swept across Assam on Thursday along with the rest of the country seems to have made it clear that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 made only little impact in the state and the other parts of the northeast even as the ruling BJP in Assam reaped the benefits of a “rainbow like alliance” it had forged in 2016.
While the final results were yet to be declared, the BJP was leading in nine out of the 14 seats in Assam, while the Congress was ahead in three seats. The Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) was leading in one seat while a sitting Independent MP was leading in Kokrajhat.
Assam and the other states in the northeast have witnessed a series of protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, popularly known as CAB, which is a controversial Bill that sought to grant citizenship to non-Muslim communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who had entered India due to religious persecution.
There is no denying the fact that the CAB played a major role in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls — while the BJP reiterated its stand to introduce the controversial Bill once the party returned to power, the Congress assured to scrap it permanently if it got the people’s mandate.
However, after Thursday’s results, political observers in the northeast feel that while the Congress failed to cash in over the growing opposition to the CAB, the ruling BJP gained subsequently not only due to it, but also from the multi-party alliance that the party forged ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections in Assam.
While the support to CAB polarised the Bengali Hindu votes towards the BJP, the opposition Congress failed to take the opposition to the Bill to the grassroots level.
The BJP has also gained from its alliance partners Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF). It may be mentioned here that as part of the three-party alliance, the ruling party had contested 10 Lok Sabha seats, leaving three seats to the AGP and one to the BPF.
Though the AGP and the BPF failed to open their tally on Thursday, the joint campaigns of the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance in the 10 seats seemed to have immensely benefited the BJP candidates.
While the Congress failed to take the protests against the CAB to the grassroots level in the Brahmaputra valley, its stand on the Bill also cost the party its forte — the Silchar Lok Sabha seat — which has large number of Bengali Hindu voters.
The CAB also constrained the BJP’s ties with the regional parties in the northeast with some outfits like the National Peoples Party (NPP) of Meghalaya and the Mizo National Front (MNF) threatening to quit the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
In Assam, the AGP also snapped its ties with the ruling party in January over the opposition to the CAB. However, the BJP played a masterstroke when it revived the alliance with the AGP just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and said that the ruling party will bring the CAB albeit with some modifications — thereby ensuring the conversion of AGP votes in at least nine constituencies to the BJP candidates.