The Bharatiya Janata Party and the party-led Government at the Centre are understandably over the moon. They have every reason to feel elated as they have scored two significant political victories within a week: a creditable victory in the Karnataka assembly by-elections and the ease with which the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed in Rajya Sabha. The latter was a significant component of the BJP’s election manifesto, too.

But neither the BJP nor the Modi Government must allow themselves to be carried away by the overwhelming sense of euphoria animating them. For, there are already signs that the passage of the CAB has caused grave concern across the country, especially among the minorities.

The north-east States which will bear the brunt of implementation of the CAB are on the boil. The strong feelings the passage of the Bill has created are understandable. The NE states fear that the impending influx of the refugees from across the border will overwhelm them demographically, politically and culturally. These fears are not unfounded.

The passage of the CAB has caused grave misgivings in Kerala, which boasts a substantial minority population, too. The parties in the State have already signalled their intent to strongly oppose the Bill. The Congress and the party-led United Democratic Front (UDF) have decided to oppose the ‘black bill’ tooth and nail.

The statement made b y Congress president Sonia Gandhi that December 11, 2019 will go down as a black day in India’s history shows the mood in the Congress camp. Rahul Gandhi has also identified himself with the opinion voiced b y the party president. It is a direct assault on the country’s Constitution, he said. The coming days will unfold the exact form which the party’s resolve to oppose the bill will take.

The CPI(M), which heads the Left Democratic Front(LDF) Government in the State has also declared its intent to oppose the bill. The strong statement issued by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reflects the CPI(M)’s as well as the LDF’s resolve to intensify the battle against the black bill. The LDF and the CPI(M) meetings to be held shortly will decide on the future course of action in this regard.

On its part, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second most important constituent of the UDF, has decided to move the Supreme Court to counter the Bill. A delegation of top IUML leaders led by IUML Parliamentary Party leader and MP, P K Kunhalikutty, has already had a meeting with top legal luminaries in the national capital.

The above-mentioned initiatives taken by the ruling party as well as the Opposition in the State show that the State will be in the forefront of the people’s movement against the CAB.

The strong sentiment against the CAB must induce the Modi Government to exercise utmost restraint in its hour of victory. The Government must do everything to allay the fears voiced by various parties and the minorities.

True, Home Minister Amit Shah has gone out of the way to still the apprehensions expressed all round. But the proof of the pudding is in its eating. Soothing words must be followed by matching action on the ground. A big responsibility, therefore, devolves on the Modi Government and the BJP. They must rise to the occasion. It must be ensured that India does not lose its secular and democratic character.

The Modi Government and the BJP would do well to remember the famous statement made by their tallest leader and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Atalji had said that India must remain secular. And if India fails to do so, India will cease to be India.

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