BJP's Nadda promises to protect Assam's identity as he kicks-off poll campaign
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President JP Nadda assured that the saffron party would protect the interests of the people of Assam even as he steered clear of mentioning contentious issues like implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act and Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
Nadda was addressing the Vijay Sankalp rally in Silchar in the Bengali-speaking Barak Valley in Southern Assam on Monday. He is on a two-day visit to the state to take stock of preparations for elections scheduled in April or May.
"It is the BJP which has protected the culture, the language, the identity of Assam," Nadda said addressing the gathering at the Police grounds. "It is the BJP which always paid attention to Assam’s culture and language," he said. "It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard the Assamese language. We have done it," Nadda said.
"When the issue of the rights of the people of Assam came up, it was the BJP which was empathetic," Nadda said even as he steered clear of specifically mentioning implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord of 1985. Clause 6 says, "Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people."
In late December, Assam Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told state assembly that the government was in the process of engaging legal experts to examine report submitted by a Home Ministry appointed high-level committee. The state government had accepted the report earlier in 2020.
Nadda invoked the Assam Movement, the six-year agitation against illegal foreigners which culminated with the Assam Accord of 1985 and said how BJP stood with the agitation and how the party made sure that it became a national issue.
The BJP president, however, goofed up by claiming that the six communities including Morans, Muttocks, Kochrajbongshis, Tai Ahoms, Chutiyas have been granted ST status by the BJP government. The demand of the communities is still pending.
Nadda’s comments come weeks after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Guwahati in December, where he attacked the politics of agitation and the new political parties formed in the state after the 2020 anti-CAA protests, calling them a vehicle to split the votes and help the Congress.
While Home Minister Shah did not take names, his statement was a veiled reference to the Assam Jatiya Parishad formed by student leaders of the All Assam Student Union, who were at the forefront of the Assam Agitation and the anti-CAA protests in 2019 and 2020, and the Raijor Dal, formed by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti led by Akhil Gogoi.
Meanwhile, the opposition attacked the BJP chief for his silence on the citizenship issue.
Sushmita Dev, the former MP from Silchar and chief of the All India Mahila Congress said Nadda didn’t address main issues including that of citizenship.
Activists in Silchar also questioned how the BJP was yet to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act.
"They are only giving assurance. They have not implemented it yet," said Sadhan Purkayastha, a Silchar-based activist.
But Dilip Paul, BJP MLA from Silchar, said the delay in forming CAA rules is not an issue in Barak Valley. "The government has already passed the law, the people know it," he said adding how the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal promised to protect the interests of Bengali Hindus in Assam. "This is why Nadda Ji focussed on the development and the good work BJP has done," he said.
"It is only Congress and some leftists who have no base left who keep raking it up,” he said. “People have full faith in Modi Ji," Paul said.