After the BJP’s defeat in three Hindi heartland states, finally, some good news has come up for the saffron party from Assam. The BJP is set to win the majority of seats in the panchayat bodies. As of now, the saffron party has won 1950 gram panchayat seats while the main opposition party, Congress has bagged 1150 seats. The Asom Gana Parishad is at the third position with 425 seats.
The saffron party has won 205 Anchalik Panchayat (regional council) seats and 235 Gram Panchayat (village council) President Seats. The BJP has managed to maintain its lead with 55 seats in Zila Parishad while the Congress party is leading on 35 seats and Asom Gana Parishad is ahead on 8 seats. The BJP is heading towards a thumping majority. The election was conducted for a total of over 26 thousand seats. The counting of the vote is still in progress.
These elections are being considered as a referendum on the BJP’s stance on the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC), and Sarbanand Sonowal government’s work in the state.
In July, the Assam Government had published the much awaited final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). There were around 40 lakh people whose name did not feature in the final draft of NRC. The main motive behind updating and publishing NRC is to separate authentic Indian citizens in Assam from illegal immigrants. NRC consists of the names of Indian citizens of Assam and the list was prepared in 1951. Since the BJP has come to power in Assam, it has restarted the exercise again.
After the final draft was published, the local population of Assam maintained that there is an attempt going on to dilute the NRC by its coordinator Prateek Hajela. According to the My Nation report, the BJP, Congress, and the AGP vehemently opposed him in the Supreme Court. So this panchayat election was no less than a clear referendum on whether Assam supports or opposes BJP’s stance on NRC. It was the BJP which vehemently supported the NRC, and took a proactive stand against illegal immigration since the beginning. The Congress joined only later on. When the final draft of NRC was published, Tarun Gogoi, the former CM of Assam and a senior Congress leader tried to take credit for initiating the NRC process. He failed to elaborate on why his government which was incidentally the longest serving in the state 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. However, both failed to explain why they did not go ahead with their plans when the Congress was ruling in the Centre as well as in state. In fact, Congress used illegal Bangladeshi immigrants as their vote bank. So, people of Assam are very well aware of the fact that which party is working in the interest of Assam and which is not.
According to the My Nation report, around 20 lakh people out of 40 lakh being left out in the final draft were Hindu refugees, living in Assam for many decades. But Hajela suggested the Supreme Court that rather than considering 15 documents for citizenship, in the appeal level only 10 documents should be taken into consideration. His logic was, “It is better to leave out a genuine citizen than include a non-citizen in NRC”. It drew the wrath of Hindus who were living in Assam since ages and indigenous people of the state whose names were not there in the final draft of the NRC. They considered it as an attempt to usurp the right of the Assamese people while the non-Assamese made it to the final draft. The BJP addressed the concerns of the Hindus and indigenous people and took a strong stand in their favor. The saffron party finally came out with good news for all those Hindus who were left out. It is clearly evident from the Panchayat elections results that people of Assam stand with BJP on the issue of NRC.