Assam looking at bygone years;
Political alternative question
A political alternative out of the stir against the Citizenship Act and suddenly Assam seems to be looking at the same situation which saw the rise of Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and his one time colleague the late Bhrigu Phukan out of the Assam movement, between 1979 and 1985. Out of the six years Assam Movement was born the Asom Gana Parishad which today has not opposed the Citizenship Act. The stand of Assam can also be understood through the Assam movement of 1979 to 1985 and this is the reason why the opposition to the CAA cannot be seen to be based along religious line but against all illegal immigrants who entered Assam after 1971, which is the base year set in the Assam Accord. Not surprisingly the ruling BJP appears to be jittery over the latest development and seen against the backdrop just mentioned, it is not surprising. On the other hand, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has more than made it clear that there is no question of a rollback of the said Act, despite the strong opposition raised by other political parties, notably the Congress. It is against this reality that the call of a political alternative in Assam becomes interesting and significant. As in back in the 1980s, it is the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), which are in the forefront of the protest against the CAA and given this, a new development along the line of a political alternative cannot be ruled out at all. How things pan out in the coming days is anybody’s guess, but this is a distinct possibility and the Congress too must have smelt the possibility of making a re-entry to the centre stage at Assam by piggy riding on the political alternative question.
With Manipur being exempted from the purview of the new Citizenship Law, the focus is now on the implementation of the Inner Line Permit System. The Government at Imphal has already gone ahead and published the guidelines which have come into force. Interesting to note too that with the coming of the ILP, the Government has not been lagging behind in opening ILP counters at Jessami, Moreh, Jiribam, Mao and another at Bir Tikendrajit Airport. As pointed out in an earlier commentary here, the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the ILP will depend on the manner in which it is implemented at the counters opened. No CAA thanks to ILP and this is something which the BJP leadership at Delhi were successful in reading the situation here. This is a point which can go down well with the BJP in the coming days but there is also the need to ensure that no over the top celebration is organised, for remember Assam and Manipur walked together in the first phase when the then CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha but not tabled in the Rajya Sabha in the beginning of 2019. It is also important for the State Government to remember that there is every reason why its borders must be kept under strict surveillance for there is strong possibility of the supposed to be deported or taken to detention camps folks to head towards the State.