Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah today said in Kolkata that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wanted Bangladeshi infiltrators in the state because they were her voters.
“Don’t you want infiltration to stop? Shouldn’t the NRC (National Register for Citizens) be completed in Assam? Should Bangladeshi infiltrators be pushed back or not?” Shah asked the gathering of BJP supporters on Kolkata’s Mayo Road at a public meeting.
Assam and Bengal vis-à-vis NRC
The fact that Shah was speaking about Assam and West Bengal in the same breath while talking about the NRC, was enough indication he wanted to highlight that the situation is exactly the same in both states. The BJP in Bengal has already demanded NRC for the state, but Shah just stopped short in saying as much.
The BJP president was clear that the main thrust of his Kolkata public meeting was the NRC. “I have come here to tell the people of Bengal about the NRC, and to talk about the need to push back infiltrators,” he said. “Should Bangladeshi infiltrators be pushed back or not?” he asked repeatedly.
He said Mamata Banerjee was recently in Delhi to oppose the NRC, but her efforts would reap no results. “Why do you want to keep infiltrators?” Shah asked, adding that Banerjee had, in 2005, thrown a bunch of papers at the Lok Sabha Speaker while opposing Bangladeshi infiltrators who had sneaked into Bengal. “Now she wants to keep them in Bengal and in Assam,” Shah said. “Does your country’s interest come first or your votebank?” he thundered. “They [Bangladeshi infiltrators in West Bengal] are making bombs here,” he said.
“You are talking about the human rights of the people who sneaked in illegally. But aren’t you concerned about the human rights of the people here?” Shah said, adding that jobs and source of sustenance for genuine citizens were under threat because of illegal migrants.
He also trained his guns at the Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Shah said that the Assam Accord (from which the NRC follows) was signed in presence of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, though the current Congress president was now opposing the NRC. Shah said the NRC procedure will definitely be completed in Assam.
At the public meeting, Shah further added that the Congress and the Trinamool Congress must make clear their stance on The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Bill – introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016 – seeks to change the definition of illegal migrants. It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction.
Appeal to “Hindu sentiment”
If the NRC, The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 were not enough, during his fiery speech Shah appealed to the so-called Hindu sentiment saying that the Mamata Banerjee government did not allow Durga Puja immersion and had stopped Saraswati Puja in schools. “If we come to power, we will make sure it happens,” Shah said.
BJP is pro-Bengal, anti-Trinamool
Trinamool Congress had put up posters with the words, “Anti-Bengal BJP, Go Back” ahead of Shah’s visit to the city. In reply, Amit Shah said that the BJP was not against Bengal, but was anti-Mamata and anti-Trinamool Congress.
He alleged that Bengali television channels had been blocked (by the administration) to stop his message from reaching the people of the state. “But you cannot scuttle our voice, Didi,” he said. “The BJP workers will go to every door and our voices will be heard,” he said.
The BJP president was also clear about Bengal being his party’s priority. “The 19 states where BJP has formed government is of no use if we can’t bring change in West Bengal.” Clearly, it was an appeal for paribartan (change) in the state. Shah, like his earlier meeting in Purulia district last month, reiterated the same appeal and added how the Centre’s funds disbursed for West Bengal wasn’t reaching the poor, and was being siphoned off by those from the ruling party.