With the three Muslim migrant sensitive states of Assam, West Bengal and Kerala set to go to the polls, the BJP has brought upfront the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act which prioritises non-Muslims from neighbouring countries for the grant of citizenship. The anti-CAA protests had seen the Muslim minority organise itself nation-wide against the BJP government. Following the outbreak of the coronavirus early last year, the protests had died down. However, the BJP has now sought to exploit the CAA to galvanise the anti-Bangladeshi opinion in the three states scheduled to elect new assemblies in the next couple of months.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in his pre-election rallies in Assam and West Bengal, has reiterated that the CAA would soon be implemented. Notwithstanding the protests against the legalisation of religion as a denominator for conferring citizenship on non-Muslim refugees from the Islamic Pakistani, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the truth is that even without such an explicit mention, priority was always given to them in grant of citizenship. By incorporating religion in the Act, the de facto was sought to be made de jure, thus giving cause for provocation to the Muslim minority and the hypocritical secularist-liberal elements.
Shah’s objective in excluding Muslims in the CAA might have been to polarise the polity in the states where the sentiment against illegal Bangladeshi migrants is a huge factor, electorally. While he has promised to implement the CAA, the Congress, the Communists and the Trinamool Congress have undertaken to oppose it. Since these parties have their gaze fixed on the sizable Muslim vote, they will compete for the anti-CAA voters while Shah seeks to consolidate the pro-CAA electorate. The election outcome alone will tell whether or not Shah’s gambit has succeeded.