BJP in rearguard action?

Promise to protect Hindu Bengalis

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 13: BJP Assam Pradesh seems to have fallen into its own trap – its poll promise of protecting Hindu Bengalis in Assam. For the Saffron party, holding promise has pushed it to a testing phase in the run-up to NRC update in the State. As things go as of now, the ruling party seems to be in rearguard action.

During the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State, the BJP made some tall promises in the Barak Valley. The party promised to protect Hindu Bengalis in Assam. This apart, the party-led government at the Centre did announce that it would give Indian citizenship to minority people in the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who had to enter India due to religious persecution. Though the move is for minorities in the three neighbouring countries, bulk of the people falling in this category are Hindu Bengalis entering Assam from Bangladesh.

On both the fronts, the Saffron party seems to have fallen into its own trap. While the stewardship on the part of the Supreme Court of India seems to be strong enough to prevent any move from the Centre to include Hindu Bengalis entering Assam from Bangladesh after March 24, 1971 into the NRC being updated, the Bill for Citizenship Amendment is still be get its passage in Parliament. On both the fronts, the All Assam Students’ Union and 28 other organizations of the State, various political parties of Assam including the AGP, and various other social organizations have been opposing the ruling party BJP tooth and il. In all likelihood, the ruling party in the State and at the Centre is not going to meet the promises it made to Hindu Bengalis. Incidentally, what people have been murmuring in Barak Valley of late is the apprehension of the mes of many Hindu Bengalis’ not figuring in the NRC being updated. With the deadline for the publication of draft NRC approaching, many families in the valley are a nervous wreck for being excluded from the NRC for want to documents to prove their legacy. Gauging the gravity of the situation well, BJP’s Barak Valley Coordition Committee that also includes some party MLAs met Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal and party’s State president Ranjit Kumar Das to get the matter sorted out. The committee, according to sources, told the Chief Minister and Dass that Barak Valley has a large number of Hindu Bengalis entering Assam from Bangladesh much before 1971 but they are likely to be excluded from NRC as they do not have documents to prove their claim. As things go as of now, stewardship on the part of the apex court and the determition on the part of the AASU and other organizations are real stumbling blocks to include any such people in the NRC.

What can the BJP do in such a situation when the panchayat poll slated to be held in early 2018 in the State? Reports being emated from highly-placed sources at the corridors of power say that the Saffron party is a retreating army now. As a rear guard action and to save its skin, a team of the party to be led by State party president Ranjit Kumar Dass is leaving for Delhi to meet Union Home Minister Rajth Singh to get the issue of Hindu Bengalis in Assam sorted out. Will the move bear fruit?   

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