A lot has happened since the Citizenship Amendment Bill became an act. It has undoubtedly turned into the most controversial move by a government in many years with passionate opinions raging on both ends of the political and ideological spectrum. In this article I talk not of what the CAA is but about what’s happened since it was cleared by the Parliament and the impact of those happenings.
Mobs turned violent in numerous cities, striking policemen and pelting them murderously with stones. They burnt buses and cars. And when anyone present in these mobs was asked why they were protesting or what the CAA was about, the answers they gave were so far from truth that they left viewers shocked at the level of brainwashing and rumour-mongering affecting those people.
Now let’s see what possible impact this has had on the general sentiment of people.
It is of no doubt that everyone recognised who were the ones destroying public property and putting the lives of innocents in danger. As long as the protests – whether justified or not – were peaceful, even a common man would’ve had a willingness to listen to the viewpoint of the protestors. But due to they turning violent and threatening to the security of the country even those who were skeptical about the CAA denounced the protests and shifted his opinion in favour of the government. No one justifies violence.
The political demagogues instigating these riots did so to unite the community they believe is their sole vote-bank and to further solidify their support base. However, what they didn’t realise is that in the process they may have ended up hurting their prospects of even maintaining support amongst the majority community.
The CAA was cleared in Parliament on 11 December. On 21 December urban body polls were held in Chhattisgarh. The results of the polls were as follows: Congress won 923 of 2,032 wards (45.4%) and the BJP 814 (40%). Considering the sweep the Congress had managed in the state polls conducted not so long ago this result should be very heartening for the BJP and a source of worry for the Congress. In the state polls Congress had won 76% seats and the BJP just 17%.
Now we look at Gujarat. On 29 December panchayat polls were held in the state on 30 seats. The BJP won 26 of those with Congress winning just 3. The BJP won three unopposed taking its total tally to 29 seats of 33. This was a massive boost to the party considering it came amidst the violence and propaganda being spread against the CAA. What makes it even more significant is that the BJP had won just 14 of these 33 while the Congress had grabbed 18 the last time voting was held on these wards. When seen in this perspective the victory gains much greater importance.
It is imperative to note that the BJP, particularly in Gujarat, is weaker in rural areas that the urban centres. Plus the Narendra Modi-factor diminishes significantly in impact as we move from national polls to local ones. Local candidates and local issues become a greater focus for voters. Despite these factors the BJP’s astounding win in the panchayat polls may well signal how little impact the false rhetoric around the CAA has had in rural areas. On the contrary it may have worked in favour of the BJP with a major portion of Hindus aligning themselves with the party even more passionately.
Delhi may well see the same in the upcoming polls. Both Congress and AAP leaders were accused of inciting violence and it is understandable why they did so; they want a major chunk of the Muslim vote. But the violence that Delhi saw could move a large section of the remaining voters towards the BJP because, as I said earlier as well, violence is not welcome by any sane person. And violence initiated as a weapon for political benefits is seen in even worse light.
The BJP has now launched a 10-day drive to educate the public about the CAA in a door-to-door campaign. I believe this comes at the right time. The tensions are past us. People will think clearly and not be emotionally charged due to the violence. Plus the violence unveiled on the streets has in fact gone in favour of the BJP.
The CAA will definitely go the Supreme Court and, as Harish Salve said in a number of interviews, it won’t be difficult for the government to defend it. That will end most of the opposition and criticism the CAA has seen in the media.