One of the 14 activists who had stripped outside the Parliament on February 8 in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, strongly advocated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have joined the saffron party today.
The activist Jadav Das belonged to the Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad (KMSS), which was at the forefront of the massive agitation against the Bill in Assam. Apart from Jadav Das, who shot to national limelight when he led the naked protest on the day a joint parliamentary committee report on the Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha, 12 other senior members of KMSS have also joined the BJP today (April 6).
All of them met Assam BJP president Ranjeet Das in Guwahati today and officially joined the party.
The entire northeast erupted in protest when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha.
AMENDMENT BILL, 2016
The Bill seeks to make illegal immigrants, who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship in India.
The people of northeast fear that this can lead to granting citizenship to a large number of illegal Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh posing a serious threat to the demography, culture and languages in the region.
The Bill caused massive public outrage against the BJP and even allies like Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front (NPF), NPDP and MNF-stood against the Bill.
The entire nation was shocked when on February 8, 14 activists of organisations like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Tai-Ahom Yuba Parishad (TAYP), Anusuchit Jati Yuba Chatra Parishad Asom, Oikya Sena Asom and the Durniti Birodhi Nagarik Mancha stripped naked and shouted slogans such as “Narendra Modi Murdabad” and “Bangladeshis Go Back”.
BJP AND BILL
The BJP government did not introduce the Bill in Rajya Sabha, letting it lapse.
The AGP, which had quit the NDA in protest against the Bill, has gone back to the NDA and is now contesting the Lok Sabha polls together with the BJP.
Though the BJP did not introduce the Bill in Rajya Sabha, party president Amit Shah has repeatedly said that if voted to power, the next BJP government would certainly pass the Bill in the Parliament.
JADAV DAS AND BJP
Das’s joining the BJP can be credited to state BJP leader Bhaskar Papukon Gogoi, who organised a meeting between the KMSS activists and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
“Das approached me as they were dissatisfied with KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi. After talking to us and understanding what BJP stands for, he felt that the party worked for the best interest of Assam. Chief Minister Sonowal then advised him to join the party,” Gogoi said.
On joining the party he had agitated against, Das said that he had been disillusioned with the KMSS leadership and those who ran the “entire protest campaign” against the Bill and the BJP.
“We were made scapegoats. Later we realised that instead of Assam’s welfare, the leaders leading the protest were motivated by personal gains, which were against the Assamese people. On the other side, the BJP governments, both at the Centre and state, have done massive development for Assam in last few years. After meeting Bhaskar Gogoi, I understood that the BJP would never do anything against Assam. So I decided to join the party to serve our state better,” Jadav Das said.
BILL, BJP AND ASSAM
Despite massive protests against the Citizenship Bill, the Bill has failed to create adverse electoral impact for the BJP in Assam, the largest state it has been ruling in the northeast.
At the peak of the protest against the Bill, the BJP swept the panchayat polls in December.
The two alliance partners, BJP and AGP, fought the polls separately.
For the other northeastern states, the BJP is likely to introduce some amendments to the proposed Bill.
“We are thinking about exempting the other northeastern states from the purview of the Bill,” Assam finance minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma told India Today TV.