With the Supreme Court on Thursday allowing the deportation of seven Rohingya Muslims who had illegally migrated into India from Assam to their country of origin, Myanmar, the issue is likely to become a major poll talking point. The apex court said the seven Rohingyas were found by the competent court to be illegal immigrants and Myanmar had accepted them as its citizens so it would not interfere in the Government's decision.
Of course, this imminent deportation -- despite the usual noises from global agencies and that perennial busybody known as the United Nations -- does not mean that the 40,000 illegal Rohingya migrants identified by the Centre for deportation are going anywhere anytime soon. But it does mean that the campaign pitch on illegal immigration will get shriller from both sides in the run-up to the General Election. Already, the BJP is talking of "termites" eating into the fabric of the nation while the Rohingyas themselves are voting with their feet and moving to States they feel will "protect" them such as Kerala and West Bengal.
Ideally, there should be cross-party consensus on how to deal with illegal immigration but we know we are asking for too much in a combative and highly acrimonious contemporary polity. All we can hope for is that bonafide Indian citizens, who themselves are still bereft of basic public services which the state ought to have been able to provide 70 years after Independence, do not suffer in the ruckus over the Rohingya.