CAB : The rallying point for NE Uniting the hills and valley

The rallying point is obviously the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8. Reflected very well in one of those very, very rare moments when CSOs of the hills and the valley have come together to impose a bandh and this is what the January 31 Statewide bandh is all about. One of those very rare occasions when the term ‘Statewide’ will have meaning, for in the past it was more a case of any stir or movement being confined to areas where the writ of those behind the bandh runs deep. Again one of those rare occasions when different political parties have come together to hum the same tune and this is where the coming together of ten political parties in the North East becomes interesting. And significantly the ten political parties are all family members of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), floated with the BJP at the helm some time back under the slogan ‘Congress Mukt’. This is in line with the earlier decision of the AGP to walk out of the Council of Ministers in the BJP led Government in Assam. The Chief Ministers of Mizoram, Zoramthanga and Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma are at the centre stage of mobilising the other political parties to stand against the CAB while the Congress seems to be going it alone, primarily as the AGP, MNF, NPP, JD (U) and others are members of NEDA. It is only the BJP led Governments in Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh which have not taken a stand against the CAB, with Imphal more than satisfied with selling the idea that the Centre would be urged to insert a clause that exempts Manipur from the purview of CAB. How feasible is such a proposal remains to be seen.
The CAB has already been passed by the Lok Sabha. Is it then possible now to insert a clause in the Bill before it is passed by the Rajya Sabha, is the natural question that follows. Perhaps Constitutional experts may give a satisfactory answer to this poser, but the very fact that this question has been raised should give an insight on how well the assurance has gone down with the people. Whatever the case, the very suggestion of a clause is a tacit admission that the Bill has the potential to disturb the well being of the indigenous people of Manipur and the North East. This is what is frightening. That the North East region will bear the brunt of human migration can also be gauged from the fact that it was no one less than the Union Home Minister who announced that sops may be granted to those who opt for places other than the North East region. It is this reality which should be seen in the coming together of ten political parties, which are otherwise allies of the BJP, to stand against the said Bill. So even as CAB is set to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, Manipur will see the coming together of CSOs from the hills and the valley to enforce a Statewide bandh. This is the irony of the said Bill-unite the hills and valley-a call which had few takers earlier.

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