Fuelling the debates on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), senior BJP leader and the leader of the opposition in West Bengal assembly Suvendu Adhikari yesterday said that CAA will be implemented in the state and dared Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop it.
Emphasising that CAA will not snatch away the citizenship of any legal person, Adhikari said, “CAA Act does not suggest that the citizenship of anyone will be taken away if one is a bonafide resident with legal documents.”
CAA that proposes to grant citizenship to the migrants belonging to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from neighbouring country of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan evoked huge controversies in 2019 and led to massive protests across the country. The major logic of providing citizenship in India where earlier was birth-based, the CAA allegedly tweaked it to fit religion as a criterion of consideration. However, the rules under the act have not been framed and thus nobody has yet been granted citizenship under this act.
Adhikari who earlier used to be one of the closest aides of Mamata Banerjee dared the Chief Minister to stall the process. “We have talked about the CAA several times. The Citizenship Amendment Act will be rolled out in the state. If you have guts, stop it from being enforced,” Adhikari said.
Caste Politics in West Bengal: BJP-TMC split over Matuas
Adhikari was addressing a meeting at North 24 Pargana’s Thakurnagar that is dominated by Matua community whose roots belong to Bangladesh. Matuas have been one of the major scheduled caste communities of the state and with its formidable 30 lakhs population controls the fate of around 50 assembly constituencies and five Loksabha seats across South 24 parganas, North 24 parganas and Nadia. Since 1950, Matua people have been coming to West Bengal mostly to avoid religious persecution in erstwhile East Pakistan and now Bangladesh.
The BJP leader maintained that Matuas will get citizenship. Referring to the ways Narendra Modi government has kept its promises of abrogating article 370 in Kashmir, Adhikari said the CAA will also be implemented.
Matuas, under their matriarch Binapani Devi who died in 2019 though earlier had a very good relation with TMC, in the last couple of years, they got split between the ruling party and the BJP. Interestingly, ahead of 2021 assembly elections, Matuas became so important that PM Modi not only visited Matua dominated constituencies repeatedly, rather he paid visit to Matua shrine during his Bangladesh trip.
BJP MP from Bongaon Shantanu Thakur who leads the BJP faction of the community also echoed Adhikari and said, “CAA will be a reality in West Bengal and the Narendra Modi government is committed to realising the goal”.
Calling it a poll plank ahead of next years’ Panchayat elections, Firhad Hakim, the senior TMC leader said, “The BJP seeks to play the same CAA card when there is an election. But we will never allow that to happen.”
Suvendu bashing Mamata Amidst Speculations Of homecoming
Notably, Adhikari’s salvos at TMC over CAA came in the backdrop of recent controversy that erupted yesterday over his meeting with Mamata Banerjee in her chamber in assembly.
Adhikari yesterday met his earlier boss along with 3 BJP MLAs. Reportedly in the meeting Mamata Banerjee said that she used to consider Suvendu as her ‘brother’ raising eyebrows in the political circles.
Suvendu however, described it as a courtesy call and said, “I was told by an assembly staff, the CM wants to meet me and I went to her chamber along with three other senior MLAs. It was a courtesy call. Our fight against the appeasement politics of the TMC government, against its attack on political opponents, against its corruption will continue and intensify in the coming days.”
The senior BJP leader and the National Vice President Dilip Ghosh though had not objected to the courtesy meeting between the two, he opposed the floated information that BJP may accompany TMC leaders to centre to claim its dues.
While addressing the media Ghosh said, “Many people go to Kalighat (temple) to offer pronam (respect), they can do so if they wish. But I heard the CM also advocated visit of a joint team to demand money from Centre. Once the TMC government gets the Central money that will be used for organising fairs, festivals and dole politics like Lakshmi Bhandar (the social welfare project for disadvantaged women),”
On the other, the meeting between Adhikari and Banerjee was not conceived by political parties as merely a courtesy call. CPI (M) and Congress have been for long accusing TMC of hobnobbing with the BJP. West Bengal state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury obliquely referred to their earlier connection and said, “Suvendu used to be a loyal soldier of Mamata Banerjee. He was the key person behind panchayat violence in Murshidabad and many other districts. Now he is with BJP but it is anyone's guess what transpired between the two when they met at assembly.”