Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday locked horns over the issue of implementation of CAA, with Shah claiming it will be implemented once the COVID wave is over, and Banerjee suggesting the legislation would not see the light of the day and that the BJP leader was misleading the masses.
During his first visit to West Bengal since the last assembly polls, Shah accused the ruling TMC of spreading canards against the legislation and claimed that CAA would be implemented once the COVID wave was over.
”The TMC is spreading rumours about CAA that it will not be implemented. I want to clearly say that the CAA would be implemented as soon as the corona wave ends,” he said.
”Everyone having voting rights is a citizen of the country. The BJP should stop using it (CAA) to fool the masses. How could they (refugees who are Indian citizens) cast their franchise otherwise, and how come he became a home minister? He has a habit of parroting lies,” the TMC Supremo said, attacking the saffron camp.
Shah, who steered the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act in the parliament in 2019 which promises citizenship to minorities who have come from neighbouring countries between March 24, 1971, and December 31, 2014, claimed Banerjee is against giving refugees citizenship and in favour of infiltration.
”Mamata ‘didi’ (elder sister) only wants infiltration to continue and is against giving citizenship to refugees who have come to Bengal. The CAA was a reality, is, and will be a reality,” he said with an eye on the Matua community, members of whom are believed to have voted BJP on the back of the promise of citizenship.
Reacting to Shah’s claim, Banerjee iterated her opposition to CAA, and NRC and said the issue of citizenship was a ploy to fool the masses. Her party leaders including from the Matua community have held that there are no illegal migrants in West Bengal and the Matuas and others who have come here as refugees are legal citizens.
Under Indian law anyone who crossed over from East Pakistan till March 24, 1971 as a refugee is treated as a citizen of India.
”I don’t want the rights of any citizen to be curbed. Unity is our strength. After being rejected by the people of Bengal, he (Shah) came after one year. He should look for a place to hide,” she added.
Banerjee has been at the forefront in opposing the CAA and NRC and has vowed not to allow its implementation in Bengal.
Members of the Matua community, who make up a large chunk of the state’s Scheduled Caste population, have been migrating to West Bengal from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) since the 1950s.
There are estimated 30 lakh Matuas in West Bengal, and the community has influence in at least five Lok Sabha seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.