Pan-India agitation against CAA is setting a new narrative for 2020

All efforts by the ruling BJP and the government to dub anti-CAA protesters as anti-nationals have failed to reduce the extent and intensity of agitation. This year can be a game changer in politics

Pan-India agitation against CAA is setting a new narrative for 2020
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Nitya Chakraborty/IPA

The year 2019 is ending with the continuing agitation by the students, academicians, civil society and the opposition parties against the imposition of CAA by the BJP government on the one hand and the definite shift in the power balance of the country by the loss of power by the saffrons successively in two states at the fag end of the year - Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

It was only seven months ago in May end 2019 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi got the massive mandate and became PM for the second time in succession exuding confidence that the BJP was invincible. That was the scenario at that time.

But in politics six month period is a long time and this is more true of the Indian polity where the people keep their options open and no political party can take its supporting base granted. BJP is the biggest political party in the country now taking into account its financial muscle power as also the political power but the tables are turning, hats off to the massive protests by the people of all communities and the religions in a spontaneous manner without caring for the leadership of the political parties.

That is a special feature of the anti-CII movement in the last quarter of 2019 and this bodes well for the strengthening of the democratic forces in 2020.

The present movement against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and the proposal to introduce National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the NPR have united the people as never before. This was not seen after the BJP government abrogated the article 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019.

The agitation was then carried out selectively and it did not get the mass character as it has got now. The women of all religions, the intelligentsia and the political parties led by the Congress and the Left, NCP and DMK are in the front rank of the agitation.

All efforts of the ruling party and the government propaganda machinery to dub the protesters as anti-nationals have failed to reduce the extent of the intensity of the agitation.

Rather the anti-CAA movement has spread to all corners of the country covering the IITs, IIMs and the premier colleges and the institutions of India. The IIM Bangalore students and faculty members are celebrating December 31 New Year Eve as the day for demonstration against CAA.

Young women lawyers joined women agitators at Shaheen Bagh on New Year eve to give them company, extend solidarity and legal advice. The senior lawyers and the juniors are all in this great battle for saving the Constitution of India.

The Opposition parties, especially the Congress, Left, NCP and DMK have to study deep this spontaneous participation of the masses so that this can be navigated purposely to achieve the objective of weakening the BJP so that the momentum continues to the disadvantage of the saffron forces.

If this opportunity is not fully utilised by the democratic forces, India is lost to the saffron for long and in 2022, as projected by the Prime Minister, the New India will take shape as Hindu Rashtra.

That is why, the present battle has to be given wider dimension and this can be done with a two-fold approach. First making common cause with the civil society movement against the imposition of the CAA and intensifying it to compel the government to give it up.

And second, at the chief ministers level to ensure that all the non BJP CMs are persuaded to not cooperate with the Centre in respect to implementation of the CAA.

Besides, the CAA is under challenge in the Supreme Court and if the Court rejects the CAA, it will make the task of Opposition much easier but the unity of the civil society and the opposition has to be kept intact to take on the Modi government in the coming battles.

In this significant battle, the Congress has to play an aggressive role but the leadership can also be shared by Sharad Pawar and the DMK leader M K Stalin both of whom have emerged as mature leaders to take on the NDA government as the leaders of the united opposition. Then this has to be linked with the general strike of all the central trade unions on January 8, 2020 which will be led by the left and it will have to be the part of the opposition attack on Modi government.

The economy is going downhill and the struggle for change in economic policies in favour of the working class, will come to the fore in 2020.Both the struggles will have to coincide to mount all round offensive against the Modi government in 2020 and beyond till 2024.

There are signs that the BJP leadership is a bit panicky, dissenting voices are coming out from the centre. This will aggravate further if the movement shows total unity and the coming assembly elections result in defeating BJP.

In 2020, immediate Assembly elections are in Delhi and Bihar and in both, the BJP is expected to lose. The present confidence of the saffronites will suffer more if the united movement can help in election victories also.

After all, the saffrons are changing the character of the Indian state taking advantage of their absolute majority in Parliament. So, removing the BJP from power should be the ultimate objective. A visionary opposition leadership can make 2020 into a gamechanger in Indian politics.

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