West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday assured people that they need not fear the roll-out of the National Register of Citizens, the amendments to the Citizenship Act or the National Population Register, as all refugee colonies in the state were recognised by the government, reported The Indian Express. Banerjee made the remarks at a rally in Jalpaiguri district of the state.
The chief minister’s attempts to allay fears of the citizens came two days after Bharatiya Janata Party National General Secretary and central observer for West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya, said that the Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented soon in the state. “Even if the West Bengal government opposes the implementation of CAA, we [Centre] will go ahead in implementing it,” he had said at Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas district on December 13.
During her rally on Tuesday, Banerjee accused the saffron party of trying to convert West Bengal into “riot-torn” Gujarat. “BJP has created a new religion of riots and hatred among communities,” she said.
‘JP Nadda’s convoy was not attacked’
The Trinamool Congress chief also reiterated that the attack on BJP President JP Nadda’s convoy was staged by the party for political gains ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.“If the BJP and the central government think they can scare us by bringing in central forces and transferring state cadre officers, they are wrong,” she added. “No one wanted to hurt him [Nadda] or his convoy.”
Nadda’s convoy was attacked with stones and bricks in Kolkata last week while he was on his way to attend a rally in Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district, which is Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee’s constituency. The convoy also included the cars of BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Vijayvargiya.
The Bharatiya Janata Party blamed TMC for the attack – a charge Banerjee has repeatedly denied. On December 11, the Ministry of Home Affairs summoned West Bengal chief secretary and the director general of police over the incident. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had sought a report from the state government and ordered an inquiry into what he called “sponsored violence” of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Banerjee on Tuesday suggested that Nadda’s car was attacked because he was accompanied by “criminals”.
“Why were so many cars accompanying his convoy? Why were convicted criminals accompanying him? The goons who vandalised the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar last year were also accompanying Nadda. People get infuriated when they see such goons roaming free.”— Mamata Banerjee, The Indian Express
She also accused the Centre of interfering in the state’s jurisdiction by summoning Indian Police Service officers to serve under it. On Saturday, Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee had even written to the Union home secretary criticising a letter from the ministry asking West Bengal’s chief secretary to release three Indian Police Service officers for central deputation. The leader had suggested that the move was politically motivated and that it was done at the behest of Shah.
‘Rebels profited from party for 10 years’
At her rally on Tuesday, Banerjee also criticised Trinamool Congress leaders who appear to be rebelling against the party, NDTV reported.
Her comments came at a time when animosity between former minister Suvendu Adhikari and the TMC has intensified. Adhikari, a Trinamool Congress MLA from Nandigram, quit from Banerjee’s Cabinet on November 27. Reports suggest that the politician is likely to join the BJP later this week, coinciding with Shah’s visit to West Bengal.
“After profiting from the party for 10 years, after profiting from being part of the government, to hobnob with this and that party... I will not tolerate such people,” Banerjee said in an indirect reference to Adhikari. She said her only aim was to “chase BJP out of Bengal”.
Adhikari, a two-term MP, had been in charge of the party organisation in several districts, including Malda, Murshidabad, Purulia and Bankura. He was also the face of the Trinamool Congress in the 2008 Nandigram movement, which by many accounts, was a major factor in unseating the Left Front government in the state in 2011.
Before his resignation as minister, Adhikari had criticised Banerjee’s party openly, choosing to address his political rallies under non-TMC banners. In the last two to three months, he had skipped all party and Cabinet meetings as well.