In the run-up to the Meghalaya State Assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has made illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh a focal point of its campaign. This issue has not been a significant factor in past elections in Meghalaya, but TMC’s presence as the principal opposition party has brought it to the forefront.
The TMC, led by Mamata Banerjee, has been aggressively campaigning in Meghalaya and seeking to gain support from Congress voters after inducting several prominent Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. Sangma has been touting his record in bringing the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016 to check illegal migration in the State during his second term as Chief Minister, as evidence that TMC is serious about the issue.
Illegal migration has been a longstanding issue in Meghalaya, and the demand for Inner Line Permit (ILP) has intensified following the exclusion of 1.9 million people from the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in neighbouring Assam. Both the BJP and National People’s Party (NPP) have branded TMC as a party supported by illegal Bangladeshi vote banks, which has led to clashes between tribals and non-tribals.
TMC has promised to resolve the demand for ILP in Meghalaya and set up an expert committee to study and resolve the issue. The Garo Hills, where TMC hopes to gain support, share a border with Bangladesh and are home to a significant Bengali population. The state has witnessed clashes between tribals and non-tribals, leading to calls for greater restrictions on non-citizens.
Despite TMC’s efforts to shed its image as a party supported by illegal migrants, it is being portrayed as such by rival parties, including the BJP and NPP. TMC has hit back, pointing out that the BJP and NPP have implemented the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which has also been accused of encouraging illegal migration.
In the previous election in Meghalaya, TMC had fielded only a few candidates and failed to win any seats. However, this time around, the party is hoping to make significant inroads by focusing on the illegal migration issue and promising to bring a solution to the long-standing demand for ILP. The induction of prominent Congress leaders, including Sangma, has boosted TMC’s chances of gaining support from Congress voters.
It remains to be seen how successful TMC will be in Meghalaya, where the BJP and NPP are dominant players. However, with the illegal migration issue coming to the forefront of the campaign, it is clear that TMC is seeking to tap into the anxieties of the local population and make a play for power in the State.
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
Leave a Reply