CAA might reshape Assam's political landscape ahead of next year's Assembly polls

Last Updated : 13 September 2020, 14:20 IST

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The agitation that rocked Assam in December-January against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Narendra Modi government might have subsided for now. But the Act is likely to reshape the state's political landscape ahead of the Assembly elections slated for early next year.

As the ruling BJP has set its target on winning 100 of 126 seats banking on the CAA and its works since 2016, opposition Congress is trying to stitch an alliance with Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and other anti-CAA parties ostensively to prevent the division of the Muslim votes (33% of Assam's population).

The AIUDF and Congress had contested separately in 2016 Assembly polls and this, according to political observers, helped BJP and its regional allies to form its first government. The AIUDF is seen as a party representing the "immigrant Muslims."

Although other anti-CAA forces have not yet made their stand clear on whether they would join the "grand alliance" being targetted by Congress, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), two influential student bodies on Friday announced their plan to float a new regional party in order to give BJP and its allies a "befitting reply" with the ballots.

"Since BJP did not listen to the strong voices of the indigenous Assamese people against the CAA, we have no option but plunge into electoral politics. We took the decision after consultation with several organisations and suggestions of a committee set up for the purpose. Our priority will be to fight against CAA to save Assam and the Assamese identity first as the CAA will destroy the same by giving citizenship to a large number of post-1971 Hindu migrants," AASU general secretary, Lurinjyoti Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati.

AASU and AJYCP are the two major organisations spearheading the agitation against the CAA.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), one of the regional allies of BJP had also come into being similarly in 1985 after the six-year-long anti-foreigners movement or Assam Agitation. The AASU leaders who spearheaded the movement formed AGP, contested elections and formed government twice thereafter but failed to solve the foreigner issue for which it was formed.

As the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill intensified, AGP quit the alliance in January 2019 but it later came back. This angered several organisations, who considered AGP a political force to fight against the foreigner issue.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti led by anti-CAA activist, Akhil Gogoi, who is facing the sedition charges due to his alleged role in the violence that broke out during the anti-CAA agitation in December has also announced its plan to form a regional party and contest elections. Akhil is in judicial custody since December.

A group of intellectuals opposed to the CAA are also planning another political party.

Akhil Gogoi, however, said all the regional parties opposed to the CAA must join hands and contest elections under one banner in order to stop BJP's run in Assam. "If we fail to unite, BJP will get a walk over," Gogoi said while being taken for medical examination by police recently. He, however, has not made it clear whether his party would join the "grand alliance" being planned by Congress, AIUDF and others.

Published 13 September 2020, 14:01 IST

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