Guwahati: The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is grappling with dissent within its ranks after days of violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that led to the deaths of five people last week. Since the Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 11, several members of BJP have either resigned or gave up official posts.
The Citizenship Amendment Act has triggered widespread protests in Assam. The public is showing its anger towards BJP, including Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Jagadish Bhuyan, who was chairman of Assam Petrochemicals Limited, quit the party on December 14 to “stand with the people”.
The Asom Gana Parishad, the BJP’s alliance partner in the state, after voting in favour of the bill in the Rajya Sabha took a U-turn on December 15 and vowed to oppose the bill “politically and legally”. Party’s MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita said “It was a mistake to vote in favour of the Bill”
Sounding a note of dissent against the new law, Assam speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, a BJP legislator from Jorhat, asked the Centre to reconsider it.
At least two functionaries of the BJP’s Tinsukia unit have given up their official positions in the party in the last couple of weeks.
Though the BJP’s state leadership has played down the resignations and dissent in public, but the party has held several internal meetings in the last few days which shows that the protests and dissent have made the party jittery. Assam Chief Minister is likely to head to Delhi to meet the home minister and the prime minister very soon.
According to Scroll, several BJP leaders said the idea behind the meetings is to impress upon the Central leadership the urgent need to provide “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people” under Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
The scale and intensity of the protests against the Act has shocked the BJP
Many of the BJP leaders are also angry by the reckless comments and tweets by Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. A senior BJP leader from Upper Assam is quoted to have said “It is not right to say things to incite people in emotional times like this,” he added, “As a responsible politician you diffuse things, but instead he has been adding fuel to fire.” Criticizing Sarma, another top leader of the party’s state unit said: “Aggressiveness and overconfidence is never a good thing.”