From mandir to migrants: BJP’s new poll strategy

From mandir to migrants: BJP’s new poll strategy

Vasantha K. Krishnaraj,
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BJP President Amit Shah

Haryana CM Khattar has announced that the state would get its own NRC (National Register of Citizens) on the lines of that implemented in Assam recently.

A few days before this announcement came Amit Shah’s rather loaded and tasteless description of illegal immigrants as ‘termites’ which he claimed were eating away at the country from within. While not denying that illegal immigrants constitute a problem, one cannot overlook the fact that these are people who have fled the country of their origin due to many reasons, not least of which is political persecution.

Certainly, they must be repatriated, but in a humane manner. Many of our own countrymen also happen to be illegal immigrants in America and other Western countries, but would Amit Shah be willing to concede that they are ‘termites’ as well?

Haryana, being a landlocked state, has no porous borders, unlike some of the Northeastern states that facilitate the entry of people from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh. So one can safely assume that Khattar’s announcement is more a poll strategy and less an attempt to address a genuine problem of infiltration by undesirable outsiders. Earlier, it was the Ram mandir issue. Now that it has been flogged to death, with no tangible results, obviously, the party needs a new narrative and hence the NRC.

The NRC is no simple matter. It involves a mammoth exercise which in any case is not fool-proof. In Assam, for instance, many genuine citizens found that their names were not present in the register. Within the same family, it was seen that the husband’s name was in the register while the wife’s and the children’s names weren’t. Sometimes people found that documents had been lost or misplaced. There has even been a suicide or two. Imagine the trauma of being told that you don’t belong in your own country?  It’s like Partition all over again! One shudders to think of the turmoil innocent people have to undergo just to prove that they are bona fide citizens of our country. Under the circumstances, Khattar should think twice or thrice before undertaking this wholly unnecessary exercise. It could turn out to be a monumental blunder, much like demonetisation. He could explore other ways to tackle the problem, if at all it exists.

Ever since the BJP came to power, we have been finding ourselves in a situation where we have to prove something or the other to the government. Whether it’s our patriotism, integrity, identity, or civic sense, this government has been constantly testing us and demanding things from us, even as its own leaders seem to have become more and more unaccountable to the people. This is not a happy state of affairs and is likely to reflect in the upcoming polls.

The truth is that Haryana has more pressing problems to take care of like the skewed male-female ratio, or the increasing incidents of rapes and violence against women, child rapes, lynchings, honour killings, etc. These are very grave issues that demand immediate attention. It would be better if Khattar focuses on them instead of tilting at windmills.

As for Shah, he should do well to remember that branding immigrants as termites is like giving his party’s fringe elements a licence to target anyone whom they deem to be an outsider. It won’t be long before cow vigilantism morphs into a different kind of vigilantism which targets suspected immigrants. In short, it would be like freeing yet another vile genie from a bottle even as the one freed before is still running wild, causing murder and mayhem galore.

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