Mamata Banerjee continued her fight against Citizenship Amendment Act on the streets of Kolkata on Thursday, as the West Bengal government celebrated freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's birth anniversary.
Invoking Bose's ideas and his criticism of the Hindu Mahasabha, the West Bengal chief minister said, "Netaji fought for united India, but now efforts are on to oust those who follow secularism. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose while addressing a public meeting in Jhargram on 12 May, 1940, had criticised the Hindu Mahasabha, these thoughts are very much relevant today," Mamata said.
Mamata has been protesting against CAA since over a month, and has held various programmes against the law that seeks to make religion the basis of fast-tracking citizenship procedure for refugees.
On Wednesday, she took her fight against the CAA and the proposed National register of Citizens (NRC) to the Darjeeling hills, an area where BJP had managed to make inroads during previous polls. Mamata sought clarifications from Union home minister Amit Shah on clauses of the new law, even as she accused the Centre of spreading lies on the issue. Interestingly, BJP's ally Gorkha National Liberation Front, has also opposed CAA and NRC saying that the law will adversely affect the Gorkhas. The GNLF has played a key role in establishing BJP's presence in the hills, in what was previously an impregnable state for the saffron party.
Addressing a rally after leading a mega 4-kilometre-long protest march through the serpentine roads of this Himalayan town, Mamata on Wednesday said the Centre is trying to push the CAA only in non-BJP ruled states. She claimed that all states except West Bengal have attended the meeting on the National Population Register (NPR) in New Delhi due to fear of the BJP-led Union government.
"Every day the Union home minister is giving new sermons. He said that we (opposition parties) are misleading people. I would like to ask him to clarify whether a person will be declared foreigner first and then allowed to apply for citizenship under the CAA," Mamata said, addressing the rally in Hindi.
"The Centre is saying that there is no need for documents for NPR, then why are they asking about date and place of birth of parents. The Centre is actually planning to make two lists — one for those who would submit documents and nother for those who wouldn't," she added.
Reiterating that the CAA, the NPR and the NRC won't be allowed in West Bengal, Mamata said before forcing any citizen out of the state, the BJP "has to throw her out" first. "Due to the NRC in Assam, lakhs of Gorkhas have been rendered homeless. We will not allow that to happen in Darjeeling as long as I am here," she said. Mamata said that agitations must continue till the contentious law is revoked by the central government.
"Suddenly after 73 years of Independence, we have to prove that we are Indian citizens. The BJP does not have the rights to determine our citizenship. Do we have to wear BJP's amulet to prove our citizenship?" she asked. The TMC supremo also slammed the saffron party for making references to Pakistan, which she said is a ploy to divert public attention from issues like economic slowdown and growing unemployment.
"Are you people (BJP) Indians or ambassadors of Pakistan? If someone protest against them, they will brand them Pakistani. If someone says we don't have industries, they will say go to Pakistan," she told a thundering crowd. Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency, which encompasses both the hills and parts of the plains including Siliguri, has been with the BJP since 2009.
Mamata, who has been at the forefront of the anti-CAA agitations, has led more than ten protest marches and addressed over seven rallies in various parts of the state since the issue snowballed into a major political firestorm last December. Her government has also decided to bring in a resolution against the CAA in the assembly on January 27, following such moves by Kerala and Punjab.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2020 22:21:37 IST