The National Register of Citizens (NRC) released by the Assam government has shown 2.89 crore of the total 3.29 crore population of the state to be eligible for inclusion in the NRC. There is still a chance for the people whose names have not been included in the final draft to raise their claims and objections as per the state NRC Coordinator. This draft too has meanwhile heated up the situation in Assam, where the state government had beefed up the security in advance. The reason for updating and publishing the NRC was to separate authentic Indian citizens from the illegal immigrants. The exercise was started by the BJP government again in 2017 following PM Modi’s promise in 2014 to reclaim Assam from the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. PM Modi had said, “Bangladeshis are entering Assam every day and destroying the state.” “I will make an arrangement by way of which all the routes used by them to enter Assam are closed.” He had added.
BJP leader and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam was sworn in on 24th May 2016. A firebrand leader, Sonowal had already taken the Bangladeshi infiltration issue to the Supreme Court in 2005. The Supreme Court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983 terming it as unconstitutional and termed Bangladeshi infiltration as “external aggression”. It was a huge victory for Sonowal who had taken the issue to the SC with grave concerns over the illegal population residing in Assam.
The NRC drew mixed reactions from the leaders from the opposition leaders both from the state and the centre. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee opposed the move and instead went on to ask the illegal immigrants to settle in her state. She also alleged that it was a plan by the state government to rid Assam of the Bengali and Bihari migrants from inside India. Mamata as disillusioned she is also announced a trip to Assam to take stock of the displaced people when the plan of action is finalized. It was not a shocking statement from Mamata who is known to have a bias attitude towards the Islamic population which serve as her vote bank in the state. Her dirty political tactics are eating away Bengal from within, and by her statement it is proved that she does not want other states like Assam to progress either.
Tarun Gogoi, the former CM of Assam and a senior Congress leader tried to snatch credit for initiating the NRC process. He failed to elaborate on why his government which was incidentally the longest serving in the state, had failed to execute the NRC but instead chose to downplay the success of the final draft of NRC prepared by the BJP government. Congress President Rahul Gandhi too followed the suit of Tarun Gogoi and tried to claim credit for the NRC by stating that the move had been initiated by former PM Manmohan Singh. Both Gogoi and Rahul should be asked as to why they did not go ahead with their plans.
The opposition seems confused as to what their final stance should be on the NRC final draft. On one hand they seem to be terrified of losing their vote banks of illegal immigrants on the other hand they seem to be wary of losing the support of the Indian citizens if they oppose the NRC draft. This dilemma and the ensuing anti-BJP stance they have taken is sure to hurt their image in the long run. It might prove to be a deal-breaker for them too in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, caught between the devil and the deep sea.