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February 25, 2020
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Telangana news
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be travelling to Assam this Friday to address a public meeting at Kokrajhar after the Centre signed the Bodo Peace Accord that brought together all the different factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, once known for violent ways to press for its demand for a separate State.Calling it a “historic” achievement since the Bodos — an ethnic tribal group — had given up on their demand for a separate State, Mr. Modi’s visit is meant to take forward the process of bringing peace. Quite literally.Since mid-December last year, when the Government of India was forced to call off the Indo-Japan summit because of spontaneous student protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the violence that followed, Mr. Modi had to put off his scheduled visit on at least one other occasion.PM unwelcomeApart from the bilateral summit, the Khelo India Games of January was the other event the Prime Minister was expected to inaugurate, but didn’t, as the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had announced it would welcome the games but oppose Mr. Modi’s visit.Emotions in most parts of the Brahmaputra Valley were running high as five protesters lost their lives to police bullets in December 2019. Internet bans, curfews, bandhs and finally, artistes resorting to cultural protests ushered in the new year.The sudden outburst in Assam that eventually triggered the anti-CAA protests took the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by surprise both in Assam as well as the Centre.After all, despite the BJP clearly stating in its 2019 manifesto that the citizenship law was a part of its unfinished agenda, the party won nine out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from the State.So, perhaps, the BJP could be forgiven for thinking that Assam was now ready to accommodate undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh on religious lines: that is, accept the Hindus immigrants but reject the Muslims.Ignoring the pastBut such a reading can come only by ignoring the past that had seen a six-year-long anti-foreigners’ agitation, 855 deaths (accorded the status of martyrs) and, eventually, the signing of the Assam Accord, not just to “protect Assam from large-scale migration but also its indigenous culture, language and history”.The new citizenship law, as it stands today, makes the Assam Accord redundant and that’s precisely one of the concerns that the Prime Minister will seek to address when he speaks in Kokrajhar.There are other important political signals to be conveyed as well. The Prime Minister’s rally comes ahead of the elections to the 40-member-strong territorial council.Irrespective of who wins the council elections — the BJP’s ally, the Bodo People’s Front, or some other party — the BJP’s popularity will certainly ride high on the back of the ₹1,500 crore development package announced by the Centre.This will also help the party in the 12 Assembly seats in this belt. A rousing welcome to the Prime Minister would show that not everyone in Assam is angry with the ruling party.And most certainly, it will mark the beginning of the BJP top leadership’s outreach before next year’s Assembly polls.

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