Point of cohesion
Principal resistance to the contentious legislation can serve as a point of consensus for disgruntled opposition parties to combat the current dispensation’s agenda
Only six months have passed since the formation of a successive Modi government at the Centre. There was no usual honeymoon period for this government as, despite the massive win by the BJP-led NDA, the general mood in the country among the common people was sullen because of grave economic crisis due to slowdown and job losses. Now along with the failure on the economic front, the current government has brought about a sea change in the mood of the nation by leading major parts of the country into acute political turmoil through their hurriedly passed Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, which has now been made into an Act.
The template of the nation has totally changed and in the last seven days since the enactment, different states are burning and the most aggressive has been the participation of the students in both Assam as well as universities in other states including Jamia Millia in Delhi, AMU in Uttar Pradesh and many other universities in various parts of the country. The Opposition parties led by Sonia Gandhi appealed to the President to take action for non-implementation of the Act while leading author Arundhati Roy called the need for an all-out second Independence Movement to save the country and the nation from the savage attacks by the ruling government against the Constitution and the Indian ethos.
There has been an unprecedented unity of the opposition parties, students and the civil society with a unanimous agreement that the BJP leadership is hellbent to take India towards a Hindurashtra and there will not be any backtracking on their part unless the opposition and the forces wedded to a secular India, force them through a vigorous movement to change their plans. This is a stupendous task for the opposition but not impossible.
The moot question is the unity which has been achieved so far and which has to be sustained and expanded. Maharashtra Cheif Minister Uddhav Thackerey has called the police attack on Jamia students like Jallianwala Bagh. He has distanced Sena from BJP's Hindutva position. He has to be cultivated by the Congress and the NCP to take a hardened anti-BJP position. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar is changing finally. In the North-East, BJP-friendly parties have revolted. All these developments have to be coordinated to culminate in a pan-India movement for saving the democracy and Constitution.
At the state level, chief ministers have to take action. Mamata Bannerjee of West Bengal has already taken the lead in declaring that West Bengal will not implement CAA in the state. She has been followed by many other states like Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and now Bihar. The North-Eastern states' governments also might oppose implementation of the CAA. The task becomes easier if the Supreme Court strikes down the Act due to its anti-constitutional features. But the apex court has postponed the hearing till January 22 and it is unclear what action the Supreme Court will finally take. The anti-CAA movement has to continue in a peaceful manner and its full impact should be felt when the Parliament session starts in the third week of January.
The fact is that the Modi-Shah duo are implementing BJP's election agenda and the massive mandate in the 2019 elections has emboldened them to travel the distance in maintaining the time table for setting up Hindurashtra. They are committed to their core constituency and are proceeding accordingly. That is why when the entire country is agitated over the CAA and the economy is going downhill, Amit Shah says that the Ram temple in Ayodhya will start in next four months and it will be a huge structure. BJP leadership is following their agenda and the opposition cannot just do its duty by criticising that. The BJP wields power through mandate and only by reversing that, the opposition can defeat the BJP agenda.
That is why the coming assembly elections are important and the anti-BJP forces have to see that BJP is weakened further at the state level after Maharashtra. The Jharkhand assembly results will be out on December 23 and this will be followed by elections in Delhi in February next year as well as in Bihar soon after. All three elections are very crucial in fighting the BJP agenda. If BJP can be defeated, especially in Bihar, the task of the opposition become easier and the battle against the BJP agenda can get a further boost.
Views expressed are strictly personal