Will anti-CAA sentiment impact this election in Assam?

There are talks about anti-CAA sentiment going to impact the Assam elections big time. The opposition parties are ranting the air with anti-CAA slogans while the ruling BJP and its allies have mostly avoided the issue. Careful about the sentiment of its Bengali Hindu voters, the principal opposition ally – Congress and AIUDF – is also skirting the issue in Barak Valley.

However, ‘No CAA’ is a favourite slogan of the opposition in this election. By flaunting ‘No CAA’ gamosa during the campaign, opposition leaders have heavily banked on the issue to pocket their seats. ‘Efforts’ could have been made to recreate yet another anti-CAA wave that rocked Assam on December 4 before it spread fast into many parts of the country.

Leaving aside the old parties banking anti-CAA sentiment, the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) – born out of the movement itself – and Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal have minced no words in denouncing the CAA. But the moot question is: Will anti-CAA slogans prove sufficient to strike the voters’ mind? Or does the opposition need to find ‘real issues’ to take on the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government?

The opposition’s struggle with arguing on the core issue of development and public welfare has already been exposed.

Yet, there is some foolish attempt to give some weightage to the anti-CAA movement and the Assam Agitation of 1979-85. Both happenings are poles apart. The anti-CAA movement is not even one-thousandth part of the six-year-long agitation in terms of people’s involvement and the impression it made on the public mindset. There are still very few who would have challenged the justification of the agitation. But most people would not want a repeat of the orchestrated violence of December 4 and thereafter. It was a black day in the history of Assam as people lured by vested interests took hold of the streets and went on destroying public property, stalling normal life for days together.

Influenced by unfounded concerns expressed by groups with political ambitions – now this is a reality for everyone to see – people in large numbers developed strong feelings against CAA. But the negative sentiment nosedived soon as no influx of Bangladeshi Hindus could be witnessed in more than a year of passing the CAA in the Parliament. The voters must ask these political parties as to what about their claims that crores of Hindus would cross over from Bangladesh to get citizenship in Assam? People must rewind those television debates discussing as to why “Assam will be the favourite destination of the (new) migrants”.

People concerned about the long-term and real issues of Assam have long understood the fake threat pronounced by these leaders and opposition parties.

What is at least sure is that the anti-CAA agitation is not likely to have much impact on the poll results in Assam. On the other hand, if reminded well by the ruling BJP, the memory of the gory violence on December 4 may spell doomsday for those trying to win votes by triggering anti-CAA sentiment.

(Views expressed by the author are his own.)

About Ankur Baruah

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Ankur Baruah is a social worker based in Majuli, Assam

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