Town That Saw Anti-Citizenship Law Violence Voting For Development, Jobs

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Assam Assembly Election 2021: Chabua votes on March 27.


Election campaign is on a high note in Chabua, a key constituency in upper Assam's Dibrugarh districts. It is among the 47 seats going to polls in the first phase on Saturday, March 27.

Before the lockdown, the country saw massive anti-citizenship law protests. In many places it was violent. The protests had started in December 2019 in Assam and the first case of large-scale violence during the anti-citizenship law protests took place in Chabua. The town is very close to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's home village.

NDTV visited Chabua and found that the cause of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, though an emotive issue, has weakened in people's mind space. The Congress has promised a rollback of the CAA through a state legislation in Assam, if voted to power.

The implementation of the controversial law, which the BJP says it's committed to, is not part of the 10 promises it gave to the people of Assam in its election manifesto.

On December 12, 2019, Chabua was singed by violent protests against the citizenship law.

During the violence, a post office was set on fire and many offices ransacked and set on fire. The local MLA's house was set on fire. Sitting MLA Binod Hazarika, a BJP old-timer, now has a new house.
He is contesting in this election from a new constituency, the neighbouring Lahowal seat.

Chabua has been given away to BJP ally Asom Gama Parishad and Punakon Baruah is the party candidate. The Congress has a new candidate in the seat, musician-turned-politician Ajay Phukan.
Mr Hazarika claims that lost ground inn Chabua has been regained.
"At that time, all my party workers had resigned in fear. My house was set on fire. Now, I have built a new one. Then we again went to the people with the schemes of the government, .like the Swayam scheme for youth and the rural schemes to  create good vibes" Mr Hazarika told NDTV.

The protests against the citizenship law continued till the lockdown last March. After restrictions were eased, the BJP's development agenda versus of the job guarantees of the Congress caught the assembly seat's attention.

"For us, the issue is development, unemployment and job. CAA is a thing of the past. It has been over a year since the protests. But there might be undercurrents in the minds of people," said Mustafa Ali, a small-time shoemaker in Chabua's market.

The three-phase election in Assam will begin on March 27. The results will be out on May 2.

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