Will oppose citizenship bill, Centre must withdraw it, says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, West Bengal, India Updated: Feb 03, 2019, 10:05 AM(IST)

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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The TMC supremo said she would not let the saffron party initiate violence and drive out the people from the country. 

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said Saturday her party would oppose the citizenship bill and demanded that the Centre withdraw the contentious legislation. Banerjee called Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “grandfather of corruption” and alleged that he was a “demon” gulping everything in the country, starting from judiciary, media and even democracy.

“The Centre will have to withdraw the citizenship bill. There is no question of supporting it. We will oppose it. We will not let him (Modi) succeed,” she said.

The chief minister dared Modi to put her behind the bars. “What will he (Modi) do because I am saying this? Will he get me murdered? Or will he threat me using the agencies? I am ready to be in jail but will not bow my head. I have always held my head high.” Banerjee was reacting to Modi seeking the TMC’s support for the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, at a rally in North 24 Parganas district.

The TMC supremo said she would not let the saffron party initiate violence and drive out the people from the country. “Using the NRC (National Register of Citizens), they (BJP) have driven out nearly 22-lakh Bengalis from Assam. They do not want anybody else other than themselves to stay in the country, they want to drive out everybody. We will not let him (Modi) succeed in driving out anyone.

“We are all citizens of the country. We all have ration cards and have rights as the country’s citizen” she said.

At the rally organised by the Matua community in Thakurnagar, Modi said the citizenship bill would bring “justice and respectability” to those who faced religious persecution. “India got Independence after splitting it into pieces. People thought they can make a living in the country of their choice, but there they (Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis and Christians) faced atrocities and torture because of communal malice,” Modi said.

“It was because of this that we brought the citizenship bill. These people have no place to go other than India. Should they not be given justice and respectability? I ask the TMC to support the bill and facilitate its passage in Parliament,” he added. The Matuas originally hail from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and began migrating to West Bengal at the beginning of the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution. Many of them have claimed to have still not got Indian citizenship.

The citizenship bill seeks to provide citizenship after six years of residence in India to non-Muslims who had fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014, even if they do not possess any document. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 and is pending in the Rajya Sabha. The TMC had staged a walkout from the Lower House, demanding that the bill is sent to a parliamentary panel.

Banerjee hit back at Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for their blistering criticism of her government in separate rallies during the day and said the two leaders should worry about retaining their own Lok Sabha seats before dreaming of victory in the state. “They (BJP) have no leaders in West Bengal. They are bringing in outsiders (Modi, Singh) who have no idea about the culture, customs of the state and have no connection with the people,” Banerjee said.

“They need not think about West Bengal, which is capable of looking after itself, it does not need anybody from outside. Ask Narendra Modi to look after New Delhi. Will Modi be able to win from Varanasi? Ask Yogi Adityanath to look after his own state (Uttar Pradesh),” she said.

Reacting sharply to Modi’s comment that the TMC government was nearing its end, the chief minister said the Centre had used government agencies to “torment and torture” the country’s people in the past five years. “They (BJP-led government) have actually ruined the future of the youths and destroyed the country’s economy. They have used the agencies in a fascist manner to threaten most of the opposition leaders.

“Actually it (Modi government) has reached its expiry date and he is not ready to accept that. He (Modi) has grown arrogant and does not know the courtesy to talk as the prime minister,” she shot back. Banerjee said the BJP leaders were not “fit for politics” and were “experts” in ‘gau Raksha’ (cow protection) and lynching and initiate violence and riots.

“Leaders like Atalji (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) used to do politics and that’s why we (TMC) have respect for him,” she said. Referring to the Union home minister, Banerjee said Singh, despite being a senior BJP leader, had to follow instructions as his son has been “framed and named” in an FIR.

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