‘Refugee status to non-Muslims BJP‘s election ploy‘

GUWAHATI: Political commentators are seeing the national executive resolution to extend protection to refugees from neighbouring countries who take refuge in India as a move ahead of the polls to avoid criticism from pressure groups which are up in arms against granting of citizenships to non-Muslim minorities from neighbouring countries.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 that seeks to fast-track citizenships to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and is being met with strong opposition in the state by several organisations, including BJP-led state government ally-the Asom Gana Parishad. Their contention is that the state will be swamped by non-Muslim minorities, especially from Bangladesh, and put Assam‘s identity in danger.

Political commentators said BJP cannot afford to upset the people-especially in the Brahmaputra valley-by talking about citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh ahead of the elections. “This resolution mentions refugees and not citizenship keeping in view the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. It‘s purely aimed at vote bank politics. It could be that the word refugee may not give rise to as much criticism as the issue of giving them citizenship did,” political commentator Haidar Hussain said.

The resolution said, “We shall also take steps to protect the interests of the minorities in our neighbourhood who come to India seeking refuge.”

Hussain said that by not specifying the countries from which the refugees would be accepted, BJP has intended not to attract opposition. The resolution, however, said, “The national executive compliments the Modi government for its determination in weeding out infiltrators, including Rogingiya.”

“When it says minorities in our neighbourhood, it could be Tamils from Sri Lanka or other minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The very purpose of keeping it open-ended is again a vote-centric approach, by not angering those in the state who are against refugees from Bangladesh,” Hussain added.

BJP general secretary Dilip Saikia said the resolution intended to look after the safety and security of refugees. “About citizenship, the issue has not been decided yet,” Saikia said.

Download The Times of India for Latest .