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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

NRC, Citizenship Amendment Bill become issues in Bengal by-polls

The two assembly seats of Karimpur and Kaliaganj in Nadia and North Dinajpur districts have sizeable Muslim population along with Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. Both districts had seen anti-NRC agitations recently.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2019 02:39 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has declared that she won’t allow NRC in West Bengal
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has declared that she won’t allow NRC in West Bengal(PTI Photo/Representative)
         

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) have become election issues for two of the three seats of Bengal by-poll to be held on November 25.

The two assembly seats of Karimpur and Kaliaganj in Nadia and North Dinajpur districts have sizeable Muslim population along with Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. Both districts had seen anti-NRC agitations recently.

BJP believes the issue of illegal immigrants will find currency with its vote bank of Hindu refugees on the two seats.

“We are focusing on the Bill because Hindus, including those from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, will definitely vote for us. People in these parts know that citizenship screening is necessary,” said Jay Prakash Majumdar, Bengal BJP vice president and candidate at Karimpur.

TMC has made it clear that it won’t allow NRC in Bengal, saying it will make aliens out of legitimate citizens.

“People of Bengal have seen through the divisive politics of the BJP. They know what NRC has done to millions of Hindus in Assam,” said TMC secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee.

Chatterjee said BJP should not “play with religion” and instead clarify why people were losing jobs.

Karimpur seat was previously held by the Trinamool Congress’ Mohua Moitra, who vacated it to fight from the Nadia Lok Sabha seats earlier this year and won. TMC had polled 16000 more votes than the BJP in this assembly segment during the general elections.

92.47 per cent of the people in Karimpur town are Hindus and only 7.3 per cent are Muslims.

Kaliaganj is in North Dinajpur district, where the Muslims comprise 49.92 per cent of the population while Hindus form 49.31 per cent.

BJP’s Debasree Chaudhuri had won from Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency which covers the Kaliaganj assembly seat.

Kharagpur Sadar in West Midnapore district is the third seat where assembly by-polls will be held.

Kolkata-based political science professor Udayan Bandopadhyay says NRC could backfire on the BJP on these seats.

“Despite the size of Hindu population, it may not be easy for the BJP to win Kaliaganj and Karimpur because Hindus are equally scared about NRC after having seen what happened in Assam. Moreover, economic slowdown has affected all sections. It will be a very close contest,” he said.

Result in the by-polls will allow all Bengal parties to test their strength ahead of the Municipal polls in state, due in a few months time and 2021 assembly polls.