Ghost of CAB hangs over North East :
Interesting stand of Khandu
Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu has spoken his mind and stand on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the BJP had assured to bring back, if it is voted to power. This was before the Lok Sabha elections and now that it has come roaring back to power, one can expect the Bill to be introduced any time in Parliament soon to be enacted. It is against this backdrop that Pema Khandu had asserted that the Chief Ministers of the North East region would surely protest if the said Bill is brought back again. This stand will obviously mount the pressure on the Chief Ministers of the other three BJP ruled States in the North East, Manipur’s N Biren Singh, Assam’s Sarbananda Sonowal and Tripura’s Biplab Kumar Deb but it is unlikely that they would come out with a public comment on the matter. Notably Pema Khandu made this announcement on the floor of the Assembly at Itanagar on July 9 and this makes it all that more significant. The last time round, it was Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who took the lead in taking the stand against the said Bill to the Centre and there is no reason to believe that the Meghalaya strongman would have changed his stand now. Remains to be seen how soon CAB would be brought back in Parliament, but the stand of Pema Khandu must have already invigorated MANPAC and the others who have already made their stand known on the issue earlier. It will be interesting to see how the BJP Chief Ministers of the North East States will respond if and when the said Bill is brought back.
Pema Khandu talked only about the Chief Ministers of the North East, but the truth of the matter is that the movement against the said Bill has been spearheaded by the civil society organisations, particularly in Manipur. Much before the Bill caught the attention of the people and brought them out on the streets of Imphal, a number of student bodies had already started galvanising the people against the Bill. North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) tied up with student organisations of the North East and held a number of deliberations to make their stand known against the Bill. It was on the back of the series of mobilisation drives launched by the student organisations that Manipur rose as one in protest when the said Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha early part of this year. It was with a reason why Manipur became the epicentre of the protest against the said Bill and since the BJP is intent on bringing back the Bill, it could have started sensitising the people that the said Bill has nothing that may go against the interests of the indigenous people of the North East region, if it is so. Pema Khandu may have spoken out his mind, but as noted earlier it is not likely that the Chief Ministers of the three other BJP ruled States would follow suit at this juncture, which will make the situation all that more dicey and uncertain when it is actually brought back in Parliament.