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BJP eyes gains from polarization due to CAA

3 min read

While notification of Rules of The Citizenship Amendment Act and consequent enforcement of the law has put the future of thousands of Muslim immigrants in jeopardy, it has served to polarize the electorate in equal measure. Enforcement of the law on the eve of elections after a wait of four years gives BJP another handle to rally the Hindutva votes behind it while parties like Congress, TMC, CPIM have strongly opposed it on the grounds that it will lead to persecution of Muslims.

West Bengal and Assam are expectedly witnessing the impact of CAA implementation with TMC and Congress opposing it vociferously in the respective states. TMC plans to hold a roadshow in Siliguri on Wednesday while chief minister Mamta Banerjee has declared CAA as “unconstitutional and discriminatory” and a violation of Article 14 (Right to Equality).

The Matua community, which is in favor of CAA as it will guarantee it the right to citizenship in India, firmly backs BJP and this had helped the saffron party win the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat in 2019. Sitting MP and Union Minister Shantanu Thakur, who hails from this caste, has been fielded again by the BJP.“Mamta Banerjee is provoking the people to protest against CAA and also giving it a communal angle,” Sukanta Majumdar, BJP West Bengal unit chief, told ET.

Muslim population in West Bengal is estimated to be 30% and forms a sizable chunk of the TMC votebase. BJP seeks to gain by polarizing the Hindu votes in its favor on the issue of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh.

In Assam, there is an overwhelming support to CAA due to resentment with the Mia Muslims who have settled down the state and the resultant polarization will help the BJP. There have been protests in parts of the state against this law. In Kerala, where BJP tries to woo the Christian voters along with the Hindus with limited success, CAA has given a new ray of hope. Chief Minister and CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan has said CAA will not be implemented in the state. With CAA keeping only the Muslim migrants out, BJP expects the Christians to support it while the Left parties and Congress vie for the Muslim vote. “In Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), the Christians constitute 14% of the votes while Muslims are only 9.1%. Similarly, in Pathanamthitta (where Sabarimala temple is located) and Thrissur, the Christians and Hindus outnumber Muslims. On the other hand, the Muslim vote will be divided in Kerala between CPM and Congress,” K Rajasekharan, senior BJP leader, told ET. Some Christian missionaries have reportedly backed CAA.

The reactions of BJP's political opponents against CAA makes it clear that the saffron party's aim of polarizing votes on communal lines is working though their criticism that this law is a violation of Article 14 and 15 has wide support.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has said that CAA notification after four years and three months and after seeking nine extensions from the Supreme Court, the BJP government has notified the rules to polarize the elections, especially in West Bengal and Assam.

NC leader Omar Abdullah has said CAA is BJP's gift to Muslims on Ramadan, while PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti alleged this is an attempt to target Muslims.