GUWAHATI: After its sterling performance in Assam and elsewhere in the Northeast, the BJP said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, (CAB), which united organisations, intellectuals and activists against the party, ironically helped the party sweep the polls.
BJP leader and Assam’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said CAB and Narendra Modi government’s development initiatives were factors that helped the party better its performance.
“The Citizenship Bill had a positive effect on the BJP in the elections. I thought the entire anti-CAB agitation, spearheaded by the organisations, was started with a wrong notion,” he said.
He said the voters endorsed Modi government’s bid to grant citizenship to immigrants, belonging to six non-Muslim communities, who fled to India in the face of religious persecution in Bangladesh.
Buoyed by the success, the minister asserted that NDA would pursue CAB which was passed in Lok Sabha earlier this year. He said the move was justified given the mandate in favour of the BJP in Assam and West Bengal.
Assam Congress chief Ripun Bora admitted that the anti-CAB protests had no impact at all. It appears that the people of Assam have nothing against CAB, he said.
Assam was on the edge for months together in the lead up to the polls in the wake of the anti-CAB protests which were spearheaded by some organisations. However, the mood on the ground was not reflected in the election results.
Despite the protests which saw five Bengalis being gunned down by suspected militants, the BJP went on to win nine of the state’s 14 seats, up by two seats from its 2014 tally of seven seats. The remaining five seats went to Congress (three), All India United Democratic Front (one) besides one to an independent candidate.
The anti-CAB protests were also staged in some other states of the Northeast but the BJP and its allies were not affected in the polls. Tripura and Arunachal have two seats each and all of these went to the BJP. The party also managed to win one of Manipur’s two seats. Its allies Mizo National Front (MNF) won Mizoram’s lone seat, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party won Nagaland’s lone seat and National People’s Party won one of the two seats in Meghalaya.
In 2014, BJP alone had won eight seats in the Northeast. It was ten for the NDA. This election, the figure for the BJP went up to 14. Similarly, the NDA tally rose to 17. The Northeast has 25 seats.