Trinamool Congress president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she would boycott a meeting of Opposition leaders called by the Congress on January 13 to discuss the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported.
Banerjee said she would not attend the meeting because of the violence that West Bengal witnessed on Wednesday during a nationwide strike called by 10 trade unions to protest against the Narendra Modi government’s policies. There were reports of buses being burned and vandalisation of public properties. At least 55 people were arrested in the state.
“I have decided to boycott the meeting convened by Sonia Gandhi on January 13 in New Delhi as I don’t support the violence that the Left and Congress unleashed in West Bengal yesterday [Wednesday],” Banerjee told the state Assembly. She added that the “double standards” of the Left Front and the Congress would not be tolerated.
Banerjee had said on Wednesday that people trying to enforce the strike did not have a political base in the state. “CPI(M) has no ideology,” the chief minister added. “Planting bombs on railway tracks is ‘gundagardi’. In the name of movement, commuters are being beaten up and stones are being pelted. This is ‘dadagiri’, not a movement.” She accused Left parties of trying to get attention, and said: “Instead of gaining this publicity, political death is better.”
The “Bharat bandh” received support from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who claimed the Centre’s “anti-people and anti-labour” policies had created catastrophic unemployment. The Left accused Banerjee of doublespeak as the state government opposed the strike.
The Opposition meeting was called to discuss recent incidents of violence in India and the attacks on education campuses and protestors.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the citizenship law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka. The Bijnor Police in Uttar Pradesh were also accused of detaining and torturing minors.