‘You are our guest, but...’: Mamata Banerjee raises CAA, NRC during courtesy meet with Modi
Mamata Banerjee says Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited her to Delhi to discuss Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens after the Bengal chief minister made her opposition to the exercises clear in a 15-minute meeting with Modi at Raj Bhawan in Kolkata. Mamata said she also demanded that Centre releases Rs 38,000 crore due to the state.
“I also told him that you are our guest and I don’t know whether it is proper to raise this but I am telling you that we are opposed to Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). These are creating divisions among people. Please rethink,” said Banerjee. “He (Modi) invited me to Delhi to have a discussion on this issue,” she added.
Banerjee said she also raised the issue of the funds due from the Centre and the prime minister promised to look into the issue once he returns to Delhi.
Watch | Mamata Banerjee meets PM Modi, say she asked for CAA, NRC’s withdrawal
The opposition, however, accused Mamata of having an understanding with Modi in private and taking a different stand in public.
“She says something in the greenroom and something else on the stage. If her opposition to CAA and NRC was genuine, why didn’t she gather all her MPs in Lok Sabha during the voting on CAA? If she had to speak on debts, why weren’t the finance minister and finance secretary with her?” Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Md. Salim asked.
Mamata said she was bound by the “constitutional duty” to meet the PM if he visited Bengal.
“If the Prime Minister or President visits Bengal, it is my constitutional duty to meet them. As a courtesy, I met him. Minister Firhad Hakim greeted him at the airport,” Banerjee told the media while leaving Raj Bhavan.
The left, however, persisted with its claim of a Mamata-Modi tacit understanding and questioned the timing of the TMC students’ wing’s sit-in demonstration against NRC and CAA.
“When students’ organisations all over India were on the streets, she did not ask her party’s student organisation to hit the streets. She asked them to organise a demonstration only after her private meeting with Modi had been finalised. She is playing a game,” Salim said.
Veteran Congress MLA and former Bengal minister Manoj Chakraborty similarly, alleged that Banerjee was “acting like BJP’s B Team”.
“How could she find it an opportune moment to raise the issue of debt? This meeting with the PM, along with her decision to boycott the January 13 opposition meeting, exposes the real nature of her political line. She has surrendered before the BJP and is playing a game to strengthen it in Bengal,” claimed Chakraborty.
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Derek Obrien soon hit back with a tweet accusing the left and the Congress of armchair activism.
“Lets get this straight. Today’s meeting is govt-to-govt. And Trinamool don’t need certificates from anyone. We started this movement & now it is a people’s movement. How many processions have U walked in? How many protests have U led ? Stop giving advice sitting on a sofa,” said his tweet.
Meanwhile, governor Jagdeep Dhankhar attacked the state government over counselling of WBUHS (West Bengal University of Health Science) barely a few minutes before he left Raj Bhavan for the airport to receive the Prime Minister.
#GoBackModiFromBengal trended on Twitter on Saturday, with 336,000 people tweeting using this hashtag till 5 pm.
Demonstrations continued across the city with more rallies being organised in the evening.