West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said there was ‘no question of holding’ the NRC in West Bengal.
“The NRC is an Assam specific exercise which the Supreme Court took up because it was part of the 1985 Assam Accord. But the exercise has been seriously botched up and the whole country has seen how genuine Indian citizens have been deprived of citizenship and how many have even committed suicide due to trauma,” Banerjee told Northeast Now.
She said the BJP was trying to introduce NRC in West Bengal and other parts of India ‘in pursuit of its divisive agenda’.
“They are trying to divide Hindus and Muslims, Bengalis and Rajbongshis, Bengalis and Gorkhas, Bengalis andb Hindi-speaking people.People in Bengal have nothing to gain from this kind of divisive politics because that will ruin our society and economy,” she said.
The CM said people live peacefully and harmoniously in Bengal and they don’t want the social cohesion disturbed by BJP and its affiliates.
“They (the BJP) thrive in division, we thrive in unity and we will not allow NRC to happen,” Mamata said, adding that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was on the same page with her on NRC. “He told me that he will also not allow NRC in Bihar.”
Mamata also demanded that the “mountain of errors” in the Assam NRC should be “corrected during the appeal process” and the state government should ensure none of those excluded from NRC at this stage are “hounded or harassed.”
Her Trinamool Congress party has decided to hold mass protests across West Bengal from this week opposing NRC in neighbouring Assam.
Two such rallies have been held in Birbhum and Nadia district and the party will cover all districts with the demand of ‘no NRC in Bengal’ and ‘justice for NRC victims in Assam’.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting this week.
On September 12, a protest rally will be organised in the city from Chiria More to Shyambazar in north Kolkata. Banerjee, who is also the TMC supremo, is likely to be present in it, a senior party leader said.
“During the emergency meeting, Banerjee expressed concern over the future of 19 lakh plus people who have been left out of the final NRC list in Assam,” a TMC leader said.
Mamata Banerjee has asked party leaders to reach out to the people and explain to them about the sinister designs of BJP, such as the implementation of NRC if it ever comes to power in Bengal.
The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was out on August 31.
“Senior TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim and the party’s Rajya Sabha deputy leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy have been assigned to keep in touch with leaders of the north eastern states on NRC,” the TMC leader said.
TMC Lok Sabha party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay has been assigned to keep in touch with leaders of other regional parties across the country on the issue, party sources said.
Reacting to TMC’s programme, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said if the saffron party comes to power in the 2021 assembly polls in Bengal it will pitch for NRC in the state.
Ghosh demanded implementation of the citizens’ register in the state to drive out Bangladeshi Muslims for the sake of the country’s internal security and reiterated BJP’s commitment to protect the interest of Hindu refugees through the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The BJP leader accused the TMC government of aiding Bangladeshi infiltration in the border areas of Bengal to secure its minority vote bank, a charge often brought by the saffron party.
The TMC has opposed NRC in Assam and has slammed the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state for making valid citizens refugees in their own country.
Banerjee had expressed concern over the exclusion of large number of Bengalis from the register. Dubbing the updated final NRC as a “fiasco”, she had said it exposed those who are trying to gain “political mileage” out of the exercise.
Banerjee said she was shocked to find that one lakh Gorkhas have been excluded from the list and insisted that “justice should be meted out to all Indian brothers and sisters.”
A total of 3,30,27,661 people had applied for inclusion in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the final list and 19,06,657 excluded, according to a statement from the Assam NRC coordinator’s office.
The Trinamool has already got unprecedented support from Left parties and Congress in passing a near-unanimous assembly resolution against implementation of NRC in Bengal . Analysts say if the BJP pushes too hard on the issue, it might lead to a closer political alliance between the Trinamool, Left Front and Congress that may upset the BJP’s applecart in the rundown to the 2021 Bengal state assembly polls.