The backlash against the Citizenship Amendment Act shows that Indians will not accept the party’s distorted vision for their country
Huge nationwide protests, involving people of various religions, professions, castes and classes, such as haven’t been seen since the freedom struggle, took place in India last week. To understand this outpouring of rage and euphoria connected specifically to the recent Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and more broadly to what it means to be an Indian, we must look to the re-election of the rightwing Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in May with an overwhelming majority.
Absolute power became for the BJP a licence to initiate one draconian change after another, all of them in some way to do with the status of Muslims in India, and, umbilically connected to this, with the status of democracy. Among these was the implementation of a national register of citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam, ostensibly to uncover illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. The real motive seemed to be to identify Muslim migrants. The government made a promise: once this was complete, it would happen in the rest of India.