‘Citizenship (Amendment) Bill another trap’, says Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee said the BJP was resorting to divisive politics in West Bengal and creating animosity among people for electoral gains.Updated: Nov 19, 2019 00:16 IST
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday termed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as “another trap like the National Register of Citizens,” and lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
She said the BJP was resorting to divisive politics in the state and creating animosity among people for electoral gains.
“The Centre is planning to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. It is just another trap like NRC. It is a trap to exclude Bengalis and Hindus from the list of legal citizens and make them refugees in their own country,” she said, while addressing a TMC workers’ meet in Cooch Behar district in north Bengal.
The Bill seeks to amend The Citizenship Act, 1955, and is aimed at granting Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
BJP wrested seven out of eight Lok Sabha seats in this region in the last polls and caused enormous damage to the ruling party. For TMC, north Bengal has become crucial in view of the civic polls to be held in Bengal in a few months. Assembly polls in the state will be held in 2021.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is likely to be tabled in the current winter session of Parliament that began on Monday.
The NRC which raised a storm in the neighbouring Assam, is a prominent election issue in districts like Cooch Behar because north Bengal have been grappling with immigrants and infiltrators for decades. Adding to the problems for TMC, there is a rising acceptance of the BJP among Scheduled Tribe communities and tea garden workers in the area.
Banerjee’s three-day tour will cover Cooch Behar, Malda and Murshidabad districts. All are located along the Indo-Bangladesh border and the last two have the state’s largest concentration of Muslim population.
At the TMC worker’s meeting, Banerjee pulled up a section of party leaders in view of the infighting that has taken a toll on the party’s image and performance. She said she would not tolerate any nuisance and urged party workers to concentrate on the organisation and not its leaders.
“Now I see you are putting up a fight together. Had you fought the same way six months ago BJP would not have been able to snatch some seats. In TMC, workers are more important than leaders,” Banerjee said.
She warned that she was keeping a close watch on party leaders and will not hesitate to expel troublemakers.
“I have my own sources. I am keeping a close watch. If you work well, you would be rewarded. If you create nuisance you will be expelled,” she said.
Without naming the BJP, she said the party was playing divisive politics.
“They are creating animosity between Hindus and Muslims, Bengalis and non-Bengalis, Rajbangshis and Kamtapuris (the two local ethnic groups). I feel sorry that a section of the people is yielding to muscle power, money power and propaganda,” she said.
Attacking the BJP on several issues, including NRC, privatization of public sector undertakings, price rise and unemployment she said that former cadres of the Left Front have now shifted to the BJP.
“Earlier I used to tag them as red comrades. Now I call them saffron comrades. The Left, the Congress and the BJP fight each other in Delhi. But in Bengal, they are partners,” she added.
The BJP refuted her charges of divisive politics.
“The chief minister makes self-contradictory statements. She is the one who brought up the Bengali, non-Bengali issue to tag the BJP as a party of outsiders. We have been only saying that we want the Bengal Shyama Prasad Mookerjee had dreamt of,” said BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu, reacting to Banerjee’s statements.