With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) likely to be the biggest issue in next year’s Assembly elections in Assam, ruling BJP and the opposition Congress seem to be in a race to induct cultural personalities in order to push their stand regarding the controversial act.
With the indigenous people in Assam fearing that the CAA would destroy their culture by giving citizenship to a large number of Hindu migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, both the parties are inducting singers, musicians, film personalities into their fold to give a push to their stand ahead of the elections.
Days after Jatin Bora, a star actor of Assamese cinema, who quit BJP during the anti-CAA agitation in December returned to the saffron party, at least 27 cultural personalities including popular young singer Simanta Shekhar and fluitist Deepak Sharma joined BJP on Wednesday. Almost at the same time, Congress organised an induction function here where 37 new faces joined the party, giving a push to Congress’ anti-CAA stand. Assamese singer, Babu Baruah, Nekibul Hussain and music director Ajay Phukan were among those who joined Congress on Tuesday.
“We are in touch with several other cultural personalities, who also want to join Congress to extend their support to the anti-CAA agitation. Many of them will join us soon and even some MLAs in BJP will also join our party,” president of Asom Pradesh Congress Committee, Ripun Bora told reporters in Guwahati after the induction function.
Interestingly, artists like Simanta Sekhar had actively taken part in the strong anti-CAA agitation Assam witnessed in December. The agitation later turned violent in Guwahati and elsewhere in which at least five persons died.
He had earlier publicly announced that it was his mistake to sing a promotional song for BJP before the 2016 Assembly elections, in which BJP and its allies won and wrested power from 15-year-long Congress government.
After joining BJP on Tuesday, Sekhar said the anti-CAA agitation was being carried out based on rumour that lakhs of Hindu Bengali migrants from Bangladesh would settle in Assam. “Many spread the rumour that lakhs of Hindu Bangladeshis will come to Assam after the CAA is implemented. But we have not come across any report about settlement of such migrants even six months after it came into being,” he said.
BJP is still in alliance with the regional Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a party which came into being in 1985 following the anti-foreigners movement between 1979 and 1985. Congress, on the other hand, is trying to stitch a “grand alliance” with Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front and other parties to defeat BJP in 2021.