For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a trump card to hold power in Assam.
In fact, it has used NRC for the whole of Northeast.
The only state where this concept boomeranged is West Bengal.
Of late, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said his government intends to review NRC since it believes that many illegal intruders have been able to find mention in the final NRC list prepared by former state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela.
Now, NRC itself is a very confusing concept. Since time immemorial there has been a difference between Barak Valley and Brahmaputra Valley.
The infamous Assam agitation was spearheaded to drive out the illegal infiltrators from the soil of Assam.
The Bengali Hindus and Muslims have always been considered as uninvited guests in Assam.
So far, Congress managed to keep its Muslim vote banks intact and it managed to win seats from Barak Valley.
Today, the scenario has changed following the division in vote banks of the Muslim community.
This dynamics has changed following the entry of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) into the political arena.
Taking advantage of this situation BJP has emerged as a major political force in Barak Valley.
The saffron brigade has been able to cash in the votes of the Hindu community who has been feeling like a ‘left out’ community for Congress.
BJP’s Hindutva image has undoubtedly brought political mileage in South Assam. The era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was somewhat different compared to the era of Narendra Modi.
Vajpayee’s soft approach was in line with the Nehruvian model — however, it also needs to be admitted here that BJP was at its nascent stage then as it was trying to gain a foothold in mainstream Indian politics.
The BJP under Narendra Modi has emerged as a tough political force. It has a brute majority and has the flexibility to call the shots.
NRC was a political trump card for BJP to make political debut in Assam. The Hindu Bengalis who have always felt being alienated by mainstream parties like Congress saw BJP as their saviour.
Identity and ethnicity are the twin bedrocks of the Northeast.
The entire politics of the Northeast revolves around this subject.
For the Hindu Bengalis, who are victims of partition, have never been able to establish a soothing relationship with the Assamese community.
The problem is still continuing unabated. Decades have passed but this issue is yet to die down.
By raising NRC, Himanta Biswa Sarma has once again tried to open the Pandora’s box.
Now, even a layman will be able to understand that this ploy is nothing less than a diversionary tactic to hide all burning issues of the state.
How far BJP will be able to reap political mileage by banking on NRC?
The answer to this question will be clear following the verdict of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled to be held in the early part of 2022.
Centre’s failure in dealing with the second wave of devastating Covid-19 has already put a dent into the image of Narendra Modi who for the past 6 years maintained the image of ‘Modi hain to mumkin hain’.
From the shortage of oxygen cylinders to floating of corpses in the Holy Ganga has tarnished the image of BJP.
The supremo of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Mohan Bhagwat’s outreach to Muslim community clearly indicates that BJP has realized it will be difficult for the saffron camp to repeat its 2019 stellar performance in the 2024 general elections.
Will Himanta’s move to reopen the closed NRC chapter in Assam benefit BJP? Will Barak Valley remain with BJP in 2024?
Let’s also not forget that the Hindu Bengalis form a sizeable number in Brahmaputra Valley as well. From the perspective of a common man this controversial topic is likely to invite more trouble for BJP in the whole of Northeast.