PCC CPI(ML)’s stand on NRC and CAB

Arup Kumar Baisya

The PCC CPI(ML) sincerely endeavours for the unity of all socio-political formations who are opposed to NRC as well as Citizens Amendment Bill 2016 (CAB). The PCC CPIML conceptualized the NRC and CAB as the premeditated fascist project of Sangh Parivar to pander neo-liberal agenda of the global oligopolists and their Indian comprador bourgeois class and to fan communalism in the Indian social landscape. The NRC and CAB together serves the fascist agenda of Hindutva as well as the interest of neo-liberal Bourgeois class power. The PCC CPI(ML) differs with the view of a section of anti-NRC forces that this move of the BJP Government is merely a diversionary tactic to dissuade the toiling masses from uniting against their acute economic hardship and their struggles thereon. The party gives a clarion call to the working class and the people of India to unite against the NRC and the CAB to save democracy and labour rights.

The full-blown bourgeois constitutional democracy in India necessitates delinking of institutional framework of the state-structure from colonial legacy and colonial laws. During British rule, those who paid taxes were considered as voters under Government of India act and British administrators were, in principle, against conferring voting rights to women. These voters were considered as citizens whose status were like tenants under the British rule. Almost two years before the adoption of Constitution in ‘free India’ which came into existence through transfer of power, the Constituent Assembly Secretariat (CAS) undertook the massive task of the preparation of voter list in 1948 based on the principle of universal franchise and Article 5 & 6 of the draft constitution which defined citizens by birth, by descent and by domicile. The preparation of voter list necessitated identification of citizens of new India. Those residents who were the residents of undivided India under Government of India act 1935 and living within the geo-political boundary of India for at least 180 days since 25th March 1948 were considered as citizens. The migrants who crossed the border due to partition and verbally expressed their desire to permanently reside in India were also included in the voter list. Those who went to Pakistan and came back to India to their ancestor’s abode also treated very leniently. The lower bureaucracy visited house to house and interacted with the people intensively to complete this task. The CAS also heard all the claim and objections of diverse people’s organizations and responded positively with necessary amendment of the procedures. The identification of citizens for the preparation of voter list were envisaged on a democratic foundation of considering the transfer of power to the “Sovereign Citizens”. The Indian state is still inheriting the colonial legacies like Sedition Act, Foreigner’s Act etc. But a solid democratic foundation was built on the question of citizenship by severing the ties with colonial legacy and delinking with the colonial conception of citizenship. Based on that, the criteria of citizenship were defined in the articles 5 to 11 of India constitution and later Citizenship Act 1955.

The Sangh Parivar’s agenda is to dismantle this democratic foundation of the constitution on citizenship to revive the colonial legacy. Based on Assam Accord, article 6(A) was incorporated in 1986 to legitimize 1971 as cut-off year for detection of foreigners in Assam. Assam has a long history of socio-politics revolving around the question of citizenship and on the question of minority rights since colonial time to till date. Assam Accord was the culmination of the anti-foreigner’s movement, and peace was bought by the acceptance of 1971 cut-off year by the victim minority and all socio-political formations in a trouble-torn state. The statistical data also reveal that there is no largescale migration in Assam post-1971. Since 1986, the exclusion of doubtful voters from the voter list has become a continuous process. The repeal of IMDT Act and the conferring of the power of reporting and serving the foreigner’s notice on doubtful foreigners on Border Police and the installation of an uncivilized tribunal process based on the onus of proof on the defendant to clear their names from doubtful tag are the cause of gross human rights violations of the minorities in Assam especially the toiling masses. The idea that the NRC process in Assam would be a respite from minority harassment and chauvinist polity and some form of closure of socio-political claims and counterclaims of doubtful foreigners was misconstrued. It was incongruous with the idea of preparation of National Register of Citizens which was mooted by the Sangh Parivar for furtherance of their Hindutva agenda and serving the interest of the big bourgeoisie. That’s why the NRC process in Assam implemented through a special procedure under clause 4(A) of Article 14(A) of NRC unleashed immense harassment and led to humanitarian crisis. The NRC process itself has not yet reached to its logical conclusion of closure and the NRC along with CAB are the two major instruments which are used by the Sangh Parivar for fanning communal-chauvinist divide. A section of the parliamentary left in Assam drenched in crass economism failed to visualize the undemocratic and anti-labour dimensions of NRC.

The entire edifice of the democratic and civilised foundation of the citizenship which was mooted during state formation of ‘Free India’ was targeted when the Citizenship Act was amended, and NRC was introduced in 2003 by the BJP led NDA Government as a part of their greater Hindutva design. Instead of addressing the democracy deficit and delinking with the colonial legacy for nation-building, the BJP Government undertook a regressive measure on constitutional democracy through the major amendment in Citizenship Act and by drawing the migrants within the ambit of illegality and this process now culminated with the introduction of CAB for communal polarization of social polity and for wooing the Hindu migrant with a false promise. The provisions of CAB were present in the Citizenship Act 1955 which did not differentiate the migrants on religious basis and did not consider the migrant as illegal. The unqualified conception of illegality on migration is antithetical to civilized values and is the revival of colonial and fascist formulations.

The NRC process will create a large number of disfranchised people mostly from among the toiling masses. These disfranchised vulnerable workers will create a reserve army of labour which will create downward pressure on the worker’s wage. The abundance of low wage is an important aspect for neo-liberal restructuring of Capital that serves the interest of the global oligopolists and their Indian comprador. The toiling masses in the Detention Camp will be treated as bonded labour to work as unpaid labour for producing the goods of multinational companies like the American Blacks who are incarcerated in Jail for profitable business and are used as unpaid workers in the works like Shoemaking of Nike-brand.

Thus, both NRC and CAB serve the interest of Sangh Parivar and the Neo-liberal big bourgeois ruling class. This merger of two aspects of ruling class in the single project of NRC is a fit case for fascist transition. The united movement of the working class and the people against NRC and CAB can only effectively resist this project of fascistisation of the state and march ahead for new democracy and dismantling of neo-liberal regime for labour rights.

PCC CPIML demands
(1) Repeal of NRC and CAB
(2) Repeal of Citizenship Amendment Act 2003
(3) Withdrawal of the NPR notification.
(4) Introduction of the act like IMDT for whole of India to do away with the colonial legacy in Foreigner’s Act or suitable Amendment of the Foreigner’s Act to establish the civilized foundation of Indian jurisprudence of onus of proof on complainant.

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Nov 21, 2019