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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

Bharat Bandh Fails To Evoke A Wide Support Even In West Bengal

Metro and Launch services have remained normal. Work at Tea gardens in North Bengal was also normal.

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KOLKATA (West Bengal): The nationwide strike called by major opposition central Trade Union evoked, at best, a mixed response yesterday – even in the erstwhile home of left-wing union politics, West Bengal.

Road and rail communications were disrupted at different places of the State due to blockade by the bandh supporters.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various areas. Bandh supporters damaged few buses also.


Police opened tear gas shells to disperse agitating bandh supporters at Sujapur in Malda District. In Kolkata, private transports are plying in a lesser number.

However, Metro and Launch services have remained normal. Work at Tea gardens in North Bengal was also normal. Bank and Postal services in the state have also been affected.

The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticized the strike call. She said that those who don’t have any political existence in the state are trying to ruin its economy by cheap politics of strike. Police have arrested hundreds of bandh supporters from different parts of the state.



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POLITICS-GOVERNANCE

Dalits Are The Biggest Beneficiaries Of CAA: JP Nadda

The BJP President said that Congress Party doesn’t know anything about CAA and only spreading misconceptions.

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AGRA (Uttar Pradesh): BJP National President J P Nadda today said that those Dalit leaders, who are opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the Congress Party do not know anything about the citizenship Amendment Act and only spreading misconceptions.

He was addressing a rally in Agra today to dispel doubts over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The rally was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s statewide campaign on the CAA issue.

In his first rally after getting elected as BJP National President, Mr Nadda said that Dalit leaders and Congress Party do not know anything about CAA and they are only misguiding people. He said that there is no ground to oppose CAA.


He added that the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi promised this kind of citizenship to the minorities of the neighbouring countries and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is only fulfilling that promise.

Speaking at the rally, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that those who will be indulging in violence in the name of protest will be dealt with according to the law by the State Administration.

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DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE

CAA Is Fulfilment Of A Longstanding Demand

The Act illustrates the Indian culture of acceptance, harmony, compassion and brotherhood.

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The Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, which came into force on December 12, 2019, has been welcomed as a long-overdue humanitarian gesture towards non-Muslim refugees compelled to flee from the three neighbouring countries due to religious persecution.

The Act states that any person belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or the Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered into India on or before December 31, 2014, without proper documents (passport, visa, etc.), shall not be treated as an illegal migrant and granted citizenship on certain conditions and restrictions, provided s/he has been in India for an aggregate period of not less than five years.

In other words, the Act does not immediately grant citizenship to the six religious communities but merely makes them eligible to apply for the Indian citizenship by naturalisation, provided they can establish their residency in India for five years instead of the existing eleven years.


The government stated that amendment to the Citizenship Act was made because the said minorities were subjected to religious persecution and they had nowhere to go but to enter India illegally.

While the term ‘religious persecution’ itself is not mentioned in the Act, the government had clarified that “the Bill has been drafted in such a way that it gives reference to the Notifications dated September 7, 2015, and July 18, 2016, which mention the term ‘Religious Persecution.’”

The Act, however, has faced opposition from sections of the society including university students, intellectuals, religious communities, and political parties. The primary contention of the opponents is that the Act discriminates against Muslims and undermines the Right to Equality enshrined in the Constitution which, inter alia, stipulates that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth.

The fact, however, is that CAA does not deal with Indian citizens including Muslims but merely provides for non-Muslim refugees from the three specified countries to acquire Indian citizenship.



In no way or by any implication this Act disfavours Indian Muslims. Therefore any attempt to link it with the rights of Indian Muslim citizens is erroneous.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that “CAA does not affect any citizen of India of any religion. No Indian has anything to worry regarding this Act. This Act is only for those who have faced years of persecution outside and have no other place to go except India.”

Further, CAA has been passed by the Parliament after due process and it is for the Supreme Court, which has been approached in this regard, to rule whether the Act is constitutional or not in terms of its abidance by the Right to Equality.

The opposition to the Act in the Northeast is on account of it not being in the interest of the indigenous people of the region.

This contention also does not hold water because CAA is not applicable to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution as well as in areas covered under the “Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

At present, total 10 autonomous districts and territorial councils are functioning in the states of Assam, Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya with the power of legislation and administration over land, water, soil, community forest, agriculture, and village and town management in addition to the administration of tribal or local laws.


States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur, where the Sixth Schedule is not implemented, are covered under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system.

The ILP system offers protection for tribal communities in these states against exploitation by the socio-economically more advanced plains people.

Under the system, any Indian citizen (non-tribal) who wishes to enter these protected areas is required to obtain an ILP, which allows him or her to stay in these states for a specified period subject to stipulated terms and condition.

The exclusion of tribal areas from the ambit of CAA through the provisions of the Sixth Schedule and ILP system means that the socio-economic and cultural interests of the indigenous people of the Northeast are well protected and the illegal immigrants granted citizenship under CAA cannot own land or settle in these areas.

These special provisions have quietened opposition to CAA in most states of the Northeast except in Assam.

Protests are persisting in Assam because of the impression that, by granting citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants, the Act dilutes the Assam Accord and negates the recently concluded Supreme Court-mandated updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

In response to Assamese concerns, the Centre has stated that CAA does not dilute the sanctity of the Assam Accord as far as the cut-off date of March 24, 1971, is concerned but addresses the concerns of only a few identified minorities on humanitarian grounds. It further promised that the linguistic, cultural, economic and political rights of the Assamese people will be safeguarded.

In fact, in July 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had reconstituted a 12- member high-level committee to examine the effectiveness of the measures taken under Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, suggest appropriate levels of reservation of seats in the state legislative assembly and local bodies as well as employment under the state government for the Assamese people, and recommend measures to protect and promote their social, cultural and linguistic identity.

Acceptance and implementation of the recommendations of the committee may assuage the negative feelings of the people of Assam towards CAA.

Of concern, however, is the perceived link between CAA and a nation-wide NRC aimed at rooting out illegal immigrants. The contention of the protesters is that when NRC is implemented, non-Muslims would be able to obtain citizenship under CAA even if they do not produce valid documents, whereas Muslims without documents would be declared illegal migrants and sent to detention centres.

To this, the Home Minister has clarified that there is no connection between the detention centre and NRC or CAA.

MHA has also released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Act in which it is stated that “the CAA has nothing to do with NRC.”

The efforts of the Centre to allay apprehensions regarding the Act by countering misinformation is a welcome step. A better understanding and appreciation of CAA by the people is expected to reduce opposition to the Act.


The CAA is a humanitarian act and its enactment is in fulfilment of a longstanding demand to provide succour to those minorities who have been compelled to flee due to majoritarian impulses in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Act, as Prime Minister Modi said, illustrates the Indian culture of acceptance, harmony, compassion and brotherhood.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Originally published by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.inhere.

Pushpita Das

Dr Pushpita Das is Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Internal Security Centre at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi. Her areas of research include border security and management, coastal security, drug trafficking, migration, and India’s Northeast.

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India Trends

Raj Thackeray Begins Fresh Innings; Shiv Sena Wary Of His Bold Saffron Avatar

A transition to ‘soft Hindutva’ by the MNS is seen as the precursor to an alliance with the BJP.

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The flag has a Raj Mudra (Royal Seal) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj with the party’s name below it.

MUMBAI (Maharashtra): Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday unveiled party’s new saffron-coloured flag, symbolising his party’s drift towards the Hindutva ideology.

MNS President Raj Thackeray unveiled the party’s new flag in a rich saffron hue with the symbol of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Raj Mudra (“Royal Seal”), at the party’s first mega-convention held at NSE Grounds in Mumbai’s Goregaon.

The seal of Shivaji reads: “Ever-Increasing Like The Crescent Moon, The Kingdom Of Shivaji, The Son Of Shahaji, Will always seek the welfare of the people.”

The old had had blue, green and saffron bands and the image of a train engine.

The launch coincides with the birth anniversary of Balasaheb Thackeray, his uncle and founder of the Shiv Sena, which is now being ruled by his cousin and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.


What made the event even more interesting was the fact that Raj Thackeray used the occasion to formally anoint his son, Amit Thackeray as a ”leader” of MNS, paving the way for another scion of the Thackeray clan to enter politics.

Amit is likely to be given charge of the MNS student wing. In 1988, Raj became president of the Shiv Sena’s Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS) in his formal launch in politics.

The development came amid changed political permutations and combinations after the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress joined hands to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray”s estranged cousin.



The Shiv Sena’s Hindutva ideology is seen to be at odds with its recent decision to govern Maharashtra in coalition with the blatant Muslim community appeasing by Congress and the NCP.

Senior MNS leader Deshpande has been quick to point that out: “Speaking and doing are two different things. After the death of Shri Balasaheb Thackeray Ji when has Sena held the saffron flag? Never. Be it Ganesh Utsav or Dahi Handi, MNS Raj Thackeray has stayed with them and will always be we them.”

Formed in 2006 after Raj Thackeray left the Shiv Sena, the MNS currently has a single representative in the 289-strong Maharashtra state assembly, all but one of whose members are elected.

Deshpande said the new changes “will bring new energy” to Maharashtra, and a “new twist”.

Raj is likely to spell out the forthcoming strategy for the party on this issue at the conclave. Despite the charismatic authority of its supreme leader, the MNS has seen just one MLA being elected to the Maharashtra assembly in 2014 and 2019, a steep decline in its fortunes compared to the bench strength of 13 in 2009.

For the moment, senior MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande, he said, “Saffron is not the property of anyone. The whole Maharashtra is saffron. We are saffron. On Thursday you will come to know about our plans. But one thing is sure this will bring new energy to Maharashtra. There will be new twist and options in Maharashtra politics.”


On alliance with BJP, he said, “It is good they are welcoming our move but right now there is no discussion of going with BJP, in future let’s see where things go.”

The times, they are a turning interesting again…

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