The chief of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit on Thursday claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act has not been implemented in the state because the Mamata Banerjee government was opposing the law, the Anandabazar Patrika reported.

While campaigning for the municipal elections in Bongaon, North 24 Parganas, state president Sukanta Majumdar said that the BJP will “sooner or later” implement the law.

“We are thinking about the issue at the highest levels,” he added, according to the Anandabazar Patrika. “The CAA has been delayed in this state [West Bengal] because the state government is opposing the law. If the state government wants, we can implement the CAA tomorrow itself.”

Bongaon is dominated by the Matuas, a sect comprising Dalits who mostly migrated from Bangladesh and have supported the BJP.

While only a small segment of the total number of refugees in West Bengal, Matuas are often treated as a bellwether given their extremely organised order and consistent lobbying efforts for refugee rights.

In January this year, several BJP legislators belonging to the Matua community in West Bengal had decided to renew pressure on the Narendra Modi-led government for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, according to The Indian Express.

In December, a delegation of BJP leaders from West Bengal, including 17 Members of Parliament from the state, had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the implementation of the law, according to ANI.

In February 2021, ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the law would be implemented after the vaccination drive for Covid-19 ends, according to the Hindustan Times.

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The opposition to the law

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.

The law, however, is yet to be implemented as rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act are yet to be framed. The government had said that the formation of the rules was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and has sought multiple extensions.

The citizenship law has been widely criticised as discriminatory and Indian Muslims fear it could be used with the National Register of Citizens to harass and disenfranchise them. It had sparked massive protests across the country.

Several states such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have moved a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act.