In his first direct reference to the controversial CAA in the run-up to the Assam assembly elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said refugees will be given citizenship rights, but asserted that the BJP will not allow infiltrators to enter the state. Shah referred to the Citizenship Amendment Act addressing election rallies at Silchar and Patharkandi in Barak Valley, where the legislation has been welcomed by the predominantly Hindu Bengali migrant population.
"I give assurance that refugees who come to Assam will be given citizenship rights, but infiltrators will not be allowed inside the state… The next BJP government will enact laws to tackle the menace of 'love and land jihad' in Assam," he said. The CAA, a major poll plank of opposition parties, did not find any mention during election rallies by national and state leaders of the BJP or in its manifesto, but party president J P Nadda had said the act is a "legislation passed by Parliament and will be implemented in time".
Shah accused the Congress leaders of double standards as they wear 'gamosas' with 'no-CAA' messages in the Brahmaputra Valley, but sport the same traditional scarfs "with no writings when they are in the Barak Valley", maintaining silence over the issue. "'Congress ke dikhane ke daant alag hote hain aur chaabane ke alag' (Congress has two sets of teeth, one to show and another to chew). This stand makes it clear that it is paving the way for AIUD chief Badruddin Ajmal to become the chief minister of the state," the home minister said.
He accused the Congress-AIUDF alliance of encouraging infiltration that threatened to change the state's demography and asserted that the BJP will not allow this. "Encouraging infiltration is an old habit of the Congress and this time they are doing it riding on Ajmal's shoulders," Shah said.
He also said appropriate laws and policies will be put in place to strengthen Assamese culture and civilisation. The BJP manifesto, which was released a few days ago, apart from promising laws against love and land jihad, said its government will enforce a deradicalisation policy to identify and quash organisations and individuals fanning communal exclusion and separatism.
Shah alleged that it was the under the Congress government's patronage that infiltrators brought in with Ajmal's support encroached land of 'sattras' (Vaishnavite monasteries) and other places of worship, besides that of the Kaziranga National Park. "This land jihad must stop," he asserted. "Badruddin Ajmal indulged these infiltrators in order to change Assam's identity and civilisation. He may be the Congress's identity but not that of Assam. Give BJP the mandate for another five years and we will ensure that this land jihad ends," he added.
While the concept of "love jihad" is well known and BJP governments in some states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have enacted laws to prevent forced religious conversion for marriage, little is known about "land jihad" beyond Assam. Many state BJP leaders have alleged that Hindus were being forced to sell off their land in Muslim majority areas because of harassment which they call "land jihad".
"If they come to power, infiltration will increase and change the demographic identity of the state," Shah alleged. "The Congress manifesto is merely a tool for election campaign but the BJP manifesto is meant for implementation," he said.
The home minister also accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of saying Ajmal represented Assam's identity. "He (Gandhi) does not understand Assam and its identity." Assam's identity is linked to Vaishnav saints Srimanta Sankardeva and Madhavdeva, brave Ahom general Lachit Barphukan who saved the state from Mughal invasion and Bharat Ratnas Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi, he said. "We will not allow Ajmal to become a symbol of Assam's identity notwithstanding Congress's efforts to do so. Can the Congress and AIUDF save the state from illegal infiltration?" he said.
The BJP has already made Assam free from insurgency and agitations in the last five years and is committed to ridding it of infiltrators and recurrent floods over the next five years. "Rahul baba should remember that it was their chief minister Tarun Gogoi who once dismissively asked about the AIUDF chief 'Who is Ajmal?' And now it is the Congress which has joined hands with Ajmal to gather votes. I think Gogoiji has got his answer in heaven," the senior BJP leader said.
Calling the Congress a "sold-out" party, Shah said, "It has no agenda left except for promoting the tourism plans of the brother-sister duo (Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi). "The Congress leader comes to Assam as a tourist and is seen in the state only for 2-3 days during the elections.
He then vanishes for the next five years." There are only three images before the people of Assam — that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development and service to people, of Rahul Gandhi's tourism and Ajmal's agenda of infiltration. The people of Assam have to decide what they want, "Modiji's double engine for development or Congress-AIUDF's double infiltration", he said. He accused former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who represented Assam in the Rajya Sabha, of not solving the state's problems, particularly failing to ensure payment of oil and gas royalty of Rs 8,000 crore which Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately released after assuming power in 2014.
The BJP government has taken several measures to ensure the development of not only Assam but the entire North East, he said. The home minister said it was due to the prime minister's efforts that the Bodo Accord was signed, paving the way for permanent peace in the state.
"But if the Congress and its allies are voted to power, violence will return," he warned. Once the BJP government assumes office for the second consecutive term, it will initiate the process of providing one lakh government jobs immediately and the exercise will be completed by March 31, 2022, Shah said, adding it will also facilitate creation of eight lakh jobs in the private sector.