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CAB a dominant agenda of BJP

Most political observers knew that the BJP was not going to drop the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) simply because political groups and civil society activists of the North East had protested against it. The BJP has not said a word as to why the Bill was not pushed through in the Rajya Sabha this time. It was obvious that not taking up the Bill was a tactical move to consolidate the Hindu vote bank in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP is not bothered about the impact of the CAB in the North Eastern states. The Party is hungry to come to power in West Bengal.

During Partition there was no large scale exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan to India but violence escalated in the 1950s and 1960s leading to large numbers of upper caste Hindus migrating to West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Even when border restrictions and other immigration control mechanisms such as barbed wire fencing came up in West Bengal, immigration from Bangladesh continued unabated. Many of these Bangladeshi nationals have entered the country without valid travel documents and these are the people that the BJP is keen to bring under its wings.

This mass migration estimated at around 11 million Hindu Bangladeshis from 1964 to 2013 played a significant role in West Bengal’s politics. Today, the BJP estimates that Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants have significant presence in 75 Assembly constituencies which make up approximately one fourth of the state assembly seats. For the BJP, Hindu Bangladeshi refugees are an easy demographic to woo and one that could boost its chances of becoming a major player in West Bengal. However, that demography alone is not enough if the BJP wants to win Bengal where the Trinamool still rules the roost.

In 2017, the Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju informed Parliament that there were around 20 million Bangladeshi immigrants staying illegally in India and residing in 17 states and Union territories. Assam alone accounted for 5 million Bangladeshi squatters, while their number in West Bengal was estimated to be the highest at 5.7 million. It is presumed that this immigrant population is largely Hindu, hence the anxiety of the BJP to enrol them into its party rank and file.

No wonder Amit Shah reiterated at a public function in Guwahati recently that if the BJP returns to power it would bring back the CAB. Hence the political parties aligned with the BJP are either naive or are misleading their constituents.

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