Kolkata: Daring the Centre to dismiss her government, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vowed on Monday to not implement the citizenship law and the proposed NRC, which she said can only be enforced in West Bengal over her dead body.
Banerjee, who led a mega rally in the heart of the city, alleged that a few people were paid by the BJP to perpetrate violence in the state, even as she blamed some powers from outside West Bengal “acting as friends” of the Muslim community for vandalism and arson.
The TMC supremo, who led the rally from Red Road to Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral house of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in north Kolkata, was joined by thousands of supporters with placards like “No CAA” and “No NRC”
“There are some forces from outside the state, who are acting as friends of minorities and have indulged in this violence. These forces are stooges of the BJP, don’t fall into their trap,” Banerjee said in an apparent reference to Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM with whom she got into a war of words recently.
“As long as I am alive, I will never implement the citizenship law or NRC in the state. You can very well dismiss my government or put me behind bars but I will never implement this black law. We will continue to protest democratically till this law is scrapped. If they want to implement it in Bengal they will have to do it over my dead body,” she said.
If the BJP thinks it can “bulldoze” everybody to implement the law, then they are wrong, she asserted.
“No one will be ousted from the state. We believe in coexistence of all religions, caste and creed,” Banerjee said as she read out an ‘oath’ for her party workers at the beginning of the rally near a statue of BR Ambedkar in Red Road.
She urged agitators to not indulge in vandalism and arson, and said it will only undermine the very motive of the protest.
“If you indulge in violence, you cause lot of inconvenience to the common people. Those who support your cause gets angry, and you would lose their support,” she said.
She further alleged that railway services have been suspended in most parts of the state by the Centre “just because few trains have been set on fire”.
The chief minister also condemned the police action on students at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and said it should not have happened.
Slamming the BJP, Banerjee said the party should take care of the states it rules in Northeast before “lecturing others” on law and order.
“The centre had asked me whether I need central forces to control the situation. I have told them that I have full faith on my state police. The BJP is busy lecturing others but it should first take care of law and order situation in states where they are in power,” she said.
Banerjee also urged people of the state to send “lakhs of letters” to President Ram Nath Kovind, opposing the amended Citizenship Act and the NRC and, if needed, use “own blood instead of ink” to write them.
Banerjee, who has been at the forefront in opposing the NRC and the citizenship law, is leading mega rallies crisscrossing the city and neighbouring Howrah in protest against the law for three consecutive days, beginning with the Red Road-Jorasanko rally.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar dubbed the rallies as “unconstitutional and inflammatory act” and urged the chief minister to devote time to “retrieve the grim situation”.
The state has seen several incidents of arson and vandalism in the past few days by people protesting against the law with a number railway stations being set ablaze and many trains burnt.