These days we have been witnessing two things simultaneously in Assam. We have been seeing spontaneous protests against the amended Citizenship law at different places all over the state every day. AASU, KMSS, political parties and civil society organizations are carrying out it.
This is a large spectrum of protest. Against this, BJP is selectively mobilizing people at some pockets. They are calling their mobilization peace rallies. They are putting strenuous effort and spending huge amount of money to make these rallies look good and impressive.
The most important characteristic feature of the so called peace rallies is that inevitably the chief minister and his number two minister both will attend the rallies along with the BJP president and other ministers and BJP officials. We don’t know yet whether these rallies are being organised by the government or the ruling party.
Here we should note one thing. BJP is a party where the defining line between the government and the ruling party is the thinnest. It is not that other ruling parties have never misused the official machinery for party purposes. They surely did, but not to the BJP’s extent.
Apparently they seem to be party activities. But remember leaving out their official works the chief minister and other ministers are attending these rallies with so much fanfare! At times their ways are blocked by the anti-CAA protesters. And everywhere they are being greeted with black flags. The ministers are so helpless in the face of protest that they are frequently using helicopters to reach their destinations.
Recently the finance minister used a helicopter just to travel a distance of five kilometers. What a time for our ministers! They never thought they would ever face this. They are calling it peace rallies. But in essence these are no peace rallies. They are show strength rallies.
BJP is used to mobilize people on religious lines. Here in Assam for the first time they are facing a roadblock because on CAA people are not divided on communal lines. This has become their headache. In all the anti-CAA protest rallies, the speakers have been reiterating that foreigners are foreigners. We cannot differentiate them on the basis of language and religion.
We honour Assam Accord because it was a consensus instrument. We reject the CAA because it goes against the mandate of Assam Accord and it is discriminatory, communal and unconstitutional. Modi-Shah (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah) at the Centre is baffled by it.
Here the Finance Minister, the second in command in the state government is using all kinds of provocative utterances for fermenting communal divide among people, but without success. Now, this is important. Among all one distinguishing characteristic of ruling dispensation is its approach to dissent and protest.
Dissent and protest are the hallmark of a democracy. We know how BJP responds to this. The anti-CAA movement can be a case study for this. What are they doing? First they didn’t know what to do. When the wits returned to them they only thought of ways how to retaliate the movement. What are they doing?
No, they would never do anything to assuage the hurt feelings of the people. That is not in the dictionary of the BJP. They are doing three things to deal with the anti-CAA agitators and its leaders. First is show of strength in the name of peace rallies. They just want to show by organizing these rallies that they still enjoy the support of the people. They want to make us believe that. But I have doubts how much they themselves believe it. Second, they are using the force to crush the movement. They have already killed five young agitators.
Strangely, the chief minister and his number two or any member of his government or the BJP haven’t even expressed sorrow for the dead yet. There is no modicum of civility in them to say even sorry to the families who lost their young children because of police brutality. Isn’t that shameful and condemnable?
Then, they arrested Akhil Gogoi, the adviser to the KMSS, another organization along with ASSU which is spearheading the anti-CAA movement, on framed up cases under NIA. Then they arrested host of other student and youth leaders. They clamped curfew in various parts of state and shutdown internet for days.
The latest is the official circular asking the college teachers not to air their views publicly in support of the anti-CAA movement. They cannot write articles in newspapers opposing the CAA. They cannot say anything even on Facebook and other social media platforms in support of the movement and against the CAA.
Then as is the practice with the BJP, they have intensified their vitriol attack against their opponents in the social media. The BJP IT cell is working overtime to spread venom and defilement everywhere.
Now how are the people responding to these three things? The movement is fast spreading out to the grassroots. One can see that from the speeches of the leaders of the movement. They, the BJP haven’t realized one thing. It is not a leaders-led movement. It is cadre induced movement. The cadres, the masses of the people have enthused the leaders to lead, not otherwise.
Here, the tone and intensity of the speeches of the leaders are speaking volumes. What fiery speeches! People in the social media have also turned bellicose and drowned the wicked voices of the BJP. The movement is doing well!