The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said that it will only implement the Citizenship Amendment Act in West Bengal, and not conduct the National Register of Citizens exercise, if voted to power in the state, PTI reported.
“We are only looking forward to implementing the CAA after the elections, as promised in the manifesto,” the party’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said. “It is an important issue for us, as we strive to grant citizenship to the persecuted refugees. We do not have any plan of conducting the NRC exercise, even if we win the elections.”
In its manifesto for West Bengal released last month, the BJP had promised to implement the CAA in its first Cabinet meeting, if the party forms the government in the state. However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah did not clarify, while releasing the manifesto, how the party plans to implement CAA in West Bengal alone, as the law is based on subjects listed under the Union list.
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. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. The act had sparked huge protests across the country.
On the other hand, in its manifesto for Assam, the BJP said it will undertake a process of “correction and reconciliation of entries” in the National Register of Citizens, but did not make a mention of the CAA. More than 19 lakh people were left out of the final list of the Assam NRC that was published on August 31, 2019. The number of people left out comprise around 6% of Assam’s entire population.
Speaking on Sunday, Vijayvargiya accused its rival in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress, of running a “disinformation campaign” against the BJP and wondered why it was opposing the CAA, which he claimed would benefit many people, PTI reported. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly asserted her party’s stand against the CAA. The state Assembly also passed a resolution against the law in January last year.
Meanwhile, Vijayvargiya also attacked Banerjee for her claims of the Election Commission being biased in favour of the BJP. “Mamata Banerjee never felt that the EC was acting partially when she won the polls,” he said, according to PTI. “The irony is that when you were winning the elections, everything seems fine. Once you start sensing defeat, you blame the EC and the electronic voting machines.”
He reiterated the BJP’s claim that the party will win more than 200 seats in the 294-member Assembly in the ongoing state polls.