BJP expansion plan jolted in Assam after 13,900 VHP-Bajrang Dal cadres resign over differences with central leadership

Two frontline Hindutva organisations in Assam which had been trying to expand their base have been jolted by the mass resignation of their cadres.  As many as 13,900 cadres of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its youth wing Bajrang Dal have put in their papers in a revolt that had been silently brewing for the past year and left a vacuum in these organisations.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The decision followed a meeting convened by senior activists of the twin outfits at Sukreswar Temple in Guwahati on 22 May which also gave the nod to joining a new group soon to be floated by Pravin Togadia, the estranged and former working president of the VHP's international wing.

“Around 95 percent of Bajrang Dal and 80 percent of VHP cadres have resigned across all the districts where we had a presence. This also includes the ten members of the state committee that had 11 members and now only about a hundred cadres are left in these organisations,” said former Bajrang Dal president of Guwahati unit Deepjyoti Sharma.

Sharma and his coterie had been in the vanguard of the expansion drive of VHP and Bajrang Dal in Assam. In a short span, they managed to establish the footprints of these groups over a vast expanse in Assam covering 28 of 33 districts. Their support base was bigger in central and lower Assam which were impacted by illegal migration from Bangladesh. Last year, the Congress accused these groups of organising training camps with weapons at several places in Assam.

Functionaries claimed that the friction with central leadership started after the rape and murder of a minor in Nagaon that left the state shaken. The state unit was restrained from issuing statements and cadres prevented from taking part in movements, functionaries added.

The subsequent clash took place over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, which saw Assam engulfed with agitations of even greater intensity, which are still on. Assam has been reeling under protests and demonstrations demanding repeal of the Bill which legitimises a section of non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh. The Assam Accord, which was inked in 1985 between the government and All Assam Student’s Union (AASU), however, does not distinguish foreign nationals on the basis of religion.

Incidentally, the views expressed by the Assam unit of Bajrang Dal on the Bill to leadership also found an echo among some BJP workers who initiated a signature campaign in Guwahati against the plan to bring changes to the Citizenship Act. Even as they were preparing to send the long list to the party president Amit Shah, they were told by the party’s top leaders to abstain from such activities since a statement would be issued after the National Register of Citizens is completed on 30 June.

For now, most of the Bajrang Dal and VHP cadres are upbeat about Togadia’s new party which they believe will give them “autonomy” to shape their own policy over local issues. “We feel Togadia would be a better alternative. He will give us freedom to voice our support on all local issues and also take part in the agitations,” said Nilav Das, former general secretary of Bajrang Dal’s Guwahati unit. Das believes that Togadia’s party would be devoid of the deficiencies that crippled the Bajrang Dal and VHP.

Activists also expect the new organisation to lay greater emphasis on social service and a campaign against misgovernance. A delegation from Guwahati is expected to meet Togadia in the capital towards the latter part of this month.

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2018 16:38:51 IST

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