The National Register of Citizens final draft in Assam has caused much debate in India. There are only two parties who have taken a clear-cut stand on the NRC- first is the BJP and the other one is the TMC. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue has become a bone of contention between the TMC and the BJP.
The BJP had promised to deport illegal immigrants once it comes to power. In November 2014, PM Modi had said, “Bangladeshis are entering Assam every day and destroying the state.” PM Modi also said, “I will make an arrangement by way of which all the routes used by them to enter Assam are closed.” During his election campaign in the same year, PM Modi had said that Bangladeshi should pack their bags and leave India. By initiating NRC exercise, the Assam BJP government made it clear that they are serious about their poll-promise- to crush the illegal immigrant infiltration in the state. Just one day before the release of the final draft, 52 Bangladeshis were deported from Assam. They were deported to Bangladesh through the Mankachar sector on the Assam-Meghalaya-Bangladesh tri-junction. In order to curb the menace of illegal-immigration, the BJP government also started the task of border fencing.
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 BJP stands firmly against illegal immigration.
On the other hand, TMC led by Mamata Banerjee is vehemently against the NRC. She has her own reasons to oppose it. It is an open secret that Mamata’s electoral success in the state of West Bengal has been due to blatant Islamic appeasement that manifests itself in making West Bengal a safe haven for illegal immigrants’ crossing over from Bangladesh. That’s why she has been the most aggressive in criticism. In a clear threat of aggravating things, she said that the NRC for Assam would lead to a civil war in the country. She stated that, “The NRC is being done with a political motive. We will not let this happen. They (BJP) are trying to divide the people. The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country.” Not just threatening civil war, she went on to offer shelter to those not on the list. As if it was not enough, she sent a delegation of TMC members to Assam. Mamata is doing everything that she is capable of doing in order to stop the NRC.
At the same time, the antithesis of the BJP that is Congress party has not made any clear-cut stand on the NRC issue. Grand old party is in a catch 22 situation. The Congress party criticized the move because it is in opposition. At the same time they are the ones who started the process in the first place. Tarun Gogoi has even claimed credit for it. However, 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.
The Congress party 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.
However, Mamata Banerjee and the BJP are not in any sort of confusion, they are very clear in their stand. Considering the fact that NRC has become the most important issue in the country today, the BJP and the TMC being at opposite ends have political ramifications. The BJP is bound to lose the votes of sympathizers of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants which it never had to begin with. Similarly, sane minded and nationalist Indians would not give any audience to Mamata Banerjee.
In all of this, the TMC has emerged as the principal opponent of the BJP. Mamata has used the NRC issue to fill the vacuum created by inept leadership of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Considering this might even turn-out as one of the biggest issue in the run-up to 2019, TMC has successfully captured the main opposition from the Congress by completely exploiting the NRC issue.
It will be interesting to see how things will unfold in the coming days, as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Dilip Ghosh had said if the party is voted to power in the state there would be National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in West Bengal too. Dilip Ghosh said, “If we (BJP) are voted to power in Bengal, then we too will implement the NRC in the state. We will send back the illegal immigrants to Bangladesh. Tough days are ahead, we will not tolerate any illegal immigrants in Bengal.” TMC will face an extremely challenging election if the BJP promises an NRC in West Bengal in the run-up to 2019 General Elections. Despite that, TMC is successfully managing to fill the principal opposition space.