Will not allow CAA implementation in Bengal as long as I am alive: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Siliguri, on Jan. 29, 2024.
| Photo Credit: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday lambasted the BJP for raising the CAA issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, asserting that she will never allow its implementation in the state during her lifetime.

Speaking at a public distribution programme at Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district, she alleged that the BJP “opportunistically raised” the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA ahead of the upcoming elections.

“With elections approaching, the BJP has again raked up the CAA issue to reap political benefits. But let me make it very clear that as long as I am alive, I will not allow its implementation in West Bengal,” Ms. Banerjee affirmed, echoing sentiments expressed on the previous day.

Her remarks were prompted by Union minister and BJP leader Shantanu Thakur’s recent assertion that the CAA would be rolled out across the country within a week.

Mr. Thakur’s statement, made during a public gathering at Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday, fueled concerns regarding the imminent enforcement of the controversial legislation.

The CAA, enacted by the BJP-led government at the Centre in 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim immigrants, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

Expressing alarm over reports of the Border Security Force (BSF) allegedly issuing separate identity cards to residents in border areas, Ms. Banerjee cautioned people against accepting such cards, labelling those as potential tools in an “NRC trap”.

“They are issuing separate identity cards to people living in border areas. Never accept these cards. This is a trap,” Ms. Banerjee warned, emphasising the need for vigilance among border communities.

Ms. Banerjee’s assertions align with her earlier claims in Cooch Behar district, where she accused the BSF of similar actions, a charge denied by the paramilitary force.

The CM rallied support against what she characterised as an alliance between the Congress, CPI(M), and BJP in West Bengal, urging people to unite under the Trinamool Congress (TMC) banner to counter this perceived threat.

“It is the TMC that is fighting for the rights of the people of the state. We all have to unite to defeat the Congress-CPI(M)-BJP nexus in Bengal,” Ms. Banerjee said, calling for solidarity among citizens.

Her remarks follow her recent announcement of the TMC’s decision to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal alone.

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