Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP on Tuesday claimed that the process of CAA implementation has started in the country and West Bengal will not be left out of it.
His comment comes a day after the Centre decided to grant Indian citizenship to minorities mainly from Pakistan, who have migrated to India, and are currently living in two districts of Gujarat under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and not the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA).
According to a Union home ministry notification, those Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians residing in the districts of Anand and Mehsana in Gujarat will be allowed registration as a citizen of India under section 5 or will be granted the certificate of naturalisation under section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and in accordance with the provisions of the Citizenship Rules, 2009.
Responding to a question on the Centre's notification, Mr Adhikari said the "CAA has already been rolled out in two districts of Gujarat by the notification giving citizenship to certain minority groups who came from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan".
"Bengal cannot be left out of the CAA implementation process. The Matua community members and other backward castes like namasudras will get certain benefits soon. The CAA will also be rolled out in our state," the Nandigram MLA said.
Union Minister of State for Shipping, Santanu Thakur, said, "I can only say if the CAA is implemented, it will be of great help to members of backward castes including the Matua community." Notably, Santanu Thakur, the Bangaon Lok Sabha MP, belongs to the Matua community.
The CAA provides for granting Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but as the rules under the Act have not been framed by the government yet, no one so far could be granted citizenship under it.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the ruling party in West Bengal will never allow the CAA to come into force in the state.
"The BJP will not be able to roll out the CAA in the country. Suvendu Adhikari is making tall claims ahead of the 2023 Panchayat polls as part of their effort to polarise the society," he alleged.
In a rare show of unanimity, Congress and the CPI(M) echoed the TMC's stand on the issue.
"We will not allow the CAA to be implemented in the country. The BJP cannot impose any such decision without any consensus. None of the secular parties in the country will allow this to happen," CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress President and Berhampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also said the BJP is making "empty noises about the CAA implementation".
"The Congress stands for integration and harmony, not dividing the society along religious lines," he added.