In what is an assault on the secular foundations of the Constitution of India, an individual’s religion could soon determine their case for the country’s citizenship. Both houses of parliament have passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The bill privileges citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It can be argued that this bill holds an ominous portent for about 200 million Indian Muslims when read with the infiltrator-crushing ambitions of the proposed National Register of Citizens.Despite the spirited argument against it by sections of the opposition in the Lok Sabha (LS), the CAB’s smooth sail through it was never in doubt. The bill’s chief sponsor, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) enjoy a brute majority in the LS.The Rajya Sabha (RS), where the arithmetic is more challenging for the ruling combine, could have been a showstopper, but for the support, either explicit or by way of abstention, of political parties outside the NDA fold and NDA partners who have pointedly flashed and milked their secular credentials in the past.Could CAB Trauma Have Been Avoided Through Sustained Dialogue?Why Political Parties, or Courts, Can Not Take the Fight ForwardWorryingly, these parties weren’t blindsided into endorsing the CAB. Most dwelt on the CAB’s exclusions on the floor of the RS - and remembered to make minority-friendly noises while at it - before signing off on the bill. For many of the non-BJP parties who supported the CAB, there is obviously insufficient incentive for putting their votes where their mouths are. More than anything else, it is the fear of worker and voter backlash that can ensure alignment.Hopes of stopping the CAB from becoming a law and sparking the large-scale statelessness its detractors legitimately fear now rest on the judiciary.The vigour and conviction with which ordinary Indians choose to stand for their countrymen and their Constitution, however, can be a force to reckon with.It is not a comforting place to be. The courts’ reputation as a guardian of the Constitution has, rightly or wrongly, frayed with time. Rousing popular appetite for a cause that is not immediately and patently damaging to the majority’s interests is difficult, more so in present-day India when the effects of a sustained campaign for minority-othering are palpable.CAB & Sri Lankan Tamil: Creation of the Politically Useful ‘Hindu’No Time to Lose NowClearly, we have reached a situation where the most disturbing of proposals has a good chance to be enshrined in law. Sure, the opposition could have alerted the nation earlier to all the worthy points it made in parliament and created pressure and space for further discussion and debate (it is not as if a surprise was sprung on it), but this far from absolves the BJP and other votaries of the CAB. Indeed, there can only be limited equivalence in systematically furthering a discordant cause and failure to resist it successfully.It would be delusional to assume that the CAB is the last salvo of its kind. Others could be on the anvil.All those inclined to contest them must imbibe the right lessons from the experience of the CAB and other controversial laws passed recently.There are several factors to contend with. The BJP has the ideological drive, the political necessity, and the narrative control to persist. Several non-NDA parties and supposedly secular NDA partners are too lulled by the perks of power to stand up for the Constitution they have sworn to uphold. The opposition resistance is weakly strategized.Only Citizen Resistance Can Make the Polity Function RighteouslyFor the ones who explicitly voted against the CAB, the writing on the wall is clear. Going forward, they must come together to make their heft count, both in representative platforms and on ground. Attempts at isolating them on puerile grounds such as speaking Pakistan’s language will be made for sure. The CAB opposers must ensure that the resistance’s accent on episodic, eve-of-event protests is replaced by the kind of sustained climate-building the BJP and its larger eco-system have invested in.If the likes of Nitish Kumar are hopeful of getting away with their turnarounds, if the AIADMK remains unfazed enough about its prospects to ignore the CAB’s neglect of Tamil interests, it is because their workers and voters have allowed themselves to be mollified easily in the past. They may well forgive this time round too.But, things could unfold very differently in the future if their stance on the CAB triggered dissident noises and resignations within the party.For the ordinary citizen, nudging the polity towards uniting and making the course corrections needed to arrest the slide is difficult. There is bruised egos, present rivalry, and win-loss calculi to get past, and, most importantly, own safe zones to step out from, but it is worth attempting. If those of us who recognize the import of what is unfolding were to convey, in no uncertain terms, our resolve to protect the Constitution we gave ourselves, we give ourselves a chance against the minefields in wait.(Manish Dubey is a policy analyst and crime fiction writer and can be contacted at @ManishDubey1972. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.) We'll get through this! 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