The Congress party has a history of minority appeasement and its leaders have never shied away from appeasing a particular community without any regards for the associated costs or potential blowbacks. They were used to ‘social engineering’ to win the elections. As long as Congress party could get the vote from any community or issue, it is ready to compromise on anything including ‘National Security’. On the illegal Bangladeshi issues, the party has not taken any clear stand yet despite successive meeting by high command leaders of the party. The release of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) resulted in exclusion of 40 lakh illegal immigrants in Assam.
In the latest blow to Congress party and its de-facto leader Sonia Gandhi, Wikileaks has released her stand on illegal immigrants and the excesses of terror outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). According to the documents released by Wikileaks, Sonia Gandhi had backed illegal Bangladeshis in Assam in 2006 for vote bank purposes. This was the time when Mrs. Gandhi was campaigning for Assam assembly election. At that time Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) was the main opposition party and it has taken an anti-immigrant stand. So the Congress party supported the illegal immigrants to get votes from Muslim community which constitutes a critical 34 percent of state population as per 2011 census.
According to the Wikileaks documents, in a brazen appeasement to the Muslims, Sonia Gandhi offered to amend the Foreigners Act to prevent the deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Her visit was marred by violence in the wake of the death of a suspected United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) member in Indian Army custody (REFTEL). However, Gandhi quickly condemned the death, forcing the Army to apologize. This shows that Mrs. Gandhi does not respect the Army and ‘National Interest’ is secondary and winning an election is a priority for her. The then Congress government in the state had been pushing the military for a ceasefire in its operations against ULFA. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s brazen appeasement politics did not stop here.
In 2005, the Supreme Court had deemed IMDT unconstitutional saying that the 1983 act “has created the biggest hurdle and is the main impediment or barrier in the identification and deportation of illegal migrants an unconstitutional measure.” In a striking reminiscence to the Shahbano case, Sonia Gandhi promised the Muslim leaders and the illegal immigrants that she would push for amendment in the Foreigner’s Act, 1946 to get around the Supreme Court order, enabling the illegal immigrants to stay in India. The appeasement to both anti-immigrant ULFA and the immigrants shows the hypocrisy which is typical to Congress party.
The party did not realize that most of the native Muslims do not support the illegal immigrants at all. The party also forgot its stance on illegal immigrants a few decades back when its leadership had signed the ‘Assam Accords’ in 1985 with the leaders of Assam movement. The accord supported the identification and deportation of illegal immigrants. The Assam Movement (1979-1985) was a popular movement against illegal immigrants in Assam. The movement was led by All Assam Students Union(AASU) and the ‘All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad’ (AAGSP) to developed a program of protests and demonstration to compel the Indian government to identify and expel illegal, (mostly Bangladeshi), immigrants and protect and provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to the indigenous Assamese people. However, Congress party was clearly not up to the task then and neither it is up to it now due to its affinity towards minority appeasement.
Now the party should clear its stand on illegal immigrants because if they want to be relevant in national politics, it is necessary to take positions on the issues that ail the country.