Protests against CAA is protest against Modi- Shah brand of politics

By Vijaya Pushkarna

“Why are they all protesting? I don't understand it.” , a BJP supporter commented the day an East Delhi neighborhood, Seelampur, was on fire and furious protesters took to the streets against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and pelted stones on policemen who resorted to tear gas shelling.Someone  in the crowd explained to him that only the Muslims were protesting , because Muslims from among the illegal migrants would be shunted back.

What most people seem to know is that the CAA distinguishes between Muslim illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan into India , and the Hindu, Sikh,Christian, Buddhist illegal migrants, for purposes of granting  Indian citizenship.

Many understand that it goes against the secular image of India.  Those who find in India's socio- cultural diversity the oxygen they need, are angry. As are those who set store by fairness, and in a sense , communal impartiality. The Muslims on the street are angry because they fear the CAA as something draconian, and could affect some of them adversely – if not today, sometime in the near future. And political parties that depend on Muslim votes are also rattled. These parties have spoken up against the CAA impairing the secular character of India, but not distinctly expressed support or sympathy for the Muslims, possibly fearing tongue lashing by BJP spokespersons and bhakts would will at once explain it as their sympathy for terrorists of all shades.

To ensure that  one is part of the National Register of Citizens , documents will have to be submitted to adduce proof. The illegal migrants who benefit from the CAA may get documents and become citizens. But chances are some  bonafide Indians may not have the required  documents! The fear is that the Muslims, particularly the poor among them, will not get the documents to prove they are Indians. Their fate will then be no different from those of illegal  Muslim migrants from the neighbouring countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah say Indians have no reasons to worry . Yet  even their allies have second thoughts about the vote they have already given to the CAB in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Why are protests raging all over the North East , why is Mamata saying the CAA and NRC will be implemented only over her dead body? Even  the politically savvy  Bihar chief minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar is not sure about the benefits of the new citizenship law. Maharashtra chief minister Udhav Thackeray has expressed concerns over it, and Punjab chief minister Amarender Singh has said he will not implement it in his state. Old NDA member and BJP's staunchest ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal  too has qualified its support to the CAA saying they want the Muslim migrants too to be granted similar citizenship. The  Kerala assembly has passed a resolution opposing the CAA. According to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, 13 non-BJP state chief ministers have opposed the proposed National Register of Citizens.

The BJP's grand design is all too obvious. Once the citizenship papers are granted to the non Muslim illegal immigrants, they will have voting rights. In all likelihood they will  gratefully vote for the BJP  during the important West Bengal assembly elections next year-- remember a large number of the Bengali speaking Bangladeshis will be scattered in West Bengal. That is why Mamata Banerjee is fuming.

By  Lok Sabha 2024, the non-Muslim illegal migrants  wherever in India they be, would have Voter Id cards. In a polarised scenario, the BJP stands a much better chance to win, with such rejigging of voting demographics. So, Nitish Kumar , who may or may not be with the BJP in the long run, has reasons to rethink, though the deal seems closed unless the Supreme Court decides to have a  fresh view.

The Akali Dal would not want the BJP to ever become its big brother in Punjab, home to Sikhs who constitute a minority in India. The North East states also fear the dilution of their culture, and have for long wanted the Centre to expel Bangladeshis who have entered their states.

For  the  regional political parties  in the North East and Punjab, there is one bigger reason to protest against the CAA. Illegal migrants from Pakistan are likely to make their home in Punjab, and those from Bangladesh, in Assam, West Bengal and elsewhere in the North East. The shrinking  economic pie that forms our development has to be shared with these new citizens. At the height of militancy in Punjab, when Hindus moved from the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur to the districts of Ambala and Yamunanagar  in Haryana, they were not welcomed.

It is for these reasons that angry studio guests of television channels ask the question : why do Modi and Shah not send these illegal migrants to Gujarat or Tamil Nadu or Madhya Pradesh?

 Far from putting in place  result-oriented policies and getting tangible results on the economic front in the face of  what economists are describing as a  great slowdown, the Modi-Shah regime has ticked off just its ideological goals like abolition of Art 370, and the implementation of CAA, leaving promises of doubling of farm income, millions of jobs, etc untouched.

Despite  having citizenship documents, deprived of societal acceptance, these migrants may become  no more than voters of the BJP and the “mohajirs of India” .

India has always let foreigners-- be they invaders or  traders, be they the Moghuls or the Brits.-- assimilate. But it has never been discriminatory

There is another big reason that people are protesting against the CAA. Modi and Shah. If they are so determined to have it--- Shah has categorically stated more than once that the law will not be taken back--there has got to be something shady about it--that is the public mood today.


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