Amit Shah (File image)
Home minister Amit Shah (File image)

Union home minister Amit Shah has assured political parties and regional groups that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) will not be implemented in the Northeast.

Reliable sources in the Home Ministry told Northeast Now that Shah has told these groups during a series of meetings on Saturday that states with sixth schedule councils and/or Inner Line regulations will be kept out of the purview of the CAB.

That would mean none of the states in Northeast will be covered by the CAB.

Analysts see this as a clever move to retain the political support base in the Northeast where regional parties and groups are strongly opposed to the CAB but at the same time win the support of Bengali Hindus in West Bengal by covering them through the CAB.

The BJP was rattled by the defeat in three recent by-polls in West Bengal.

They are particularly perturbed by the defeat at Kharagpur, a seat held by state president Dilip Ghosh in 2016.

Ghosh could win the parliament seat because he got a lead of 45000 votes in this constituency in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

But in the November 25 by-polls, the BJP candidate lost this seat to the Trinamul candidate by 21000 votes.

Ghosh and other state BJP leaders said the NRC exercise in Assam, where more Bengali Hindus than Muslims figure among the nearly two million excluded from the National Register, has severely impacted on the party’s poll prospects.

The Modi government is planning to bring the CAB in the winter session of the parliament in a desperate attempt to reinforce its Hindu support base in West Bengal, where state polls are due in 2021.

But it cannot afford to lose its control in the Northeast, where it controls all the state governments in alliance with strong regional parties, mostly as junior partners.

The decision to keep Northeast out of the CAB’s purview but implementing it in the rest of the country is a clever BJP move to retain its position in Northeast but also improve it in West Bengal.

But it may adversely impact the BJP’s fortunes in Bengali-majority Tripura.


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