West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and reiterated that the state would not accept the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population register. At a meeting in Kolkata earlier in the evening, Banerjee told the prime minister to reconsider the decision to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was notified on January 10, and the National Register of Citizens.
“It is Swami Vivekananda’s birthday tomorrow,” ANI quoted Banerjee as saying at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act dharna organised by the students’ wing of the Trinamool Congress in the city. “Some people fly down from Delhi to glorify themselves over his name but we work on Swamiji’s ideology throughout the year.” She also called Vivekananda a “universal Hindu”.
Banerjee said students should keep fighting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the citizens’ register, the National Population Register, and the atrocities committed by the police. “Let me tell you, yesterday’s central government notification on CAA will stay only on paper,” she said. “We will not let it be implemented in Bangla [West Bengal] at least.”
Banerjee said during her protest marches against the citizenship law she met people from all religions who opposed the legislation. “Let me tell them, you are daydreaming, we will break up your dream,” she warned the Bharatiya Janata Party. “There will be no CAA on the basis of religion.”
The Trinamool chief said the Constitution was of the people, by the people, and for the people, and the struggle against the policies would continue. The chief minister also wondered why the BJP wanted to implement NRC in West Bengal. “If the BJP really wants, why doesn’t it do NRC in the North East and other places?” she asked.
The chief minister asked students to remain peaceful while protesting, invoking an order by the Supreme Court. “Walk along the streets shouting slogans, be peaceful,” she said. “Don’t resort to the kind of violence that some others are indulging in.”
Meanwhile, protests continued in West Bengal, both by the Trinamool Congress and Left activists, against the Citizenship Act and National Register of Citizens. The protestors put up posters asking Modi to “go back”.
Citizenship Act, NRC and NPR
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, 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 law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.
The population register is described by the Census of India as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”. The NRC, meanwhile, is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. On December 24, the Union Cabinet approved funds of more than Rs 3,900 crore to update the National Population Register.