Kolkata: In Bengal’s heated political scenario, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is the latest flash point between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Bengal unit of the BJP has been demanding the publication of an NRC just like the one released in Assam for some time now.
Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has said on multiple occasions that only an NRC can “throw illegal Bangladeshis out”.
Soon after the final list of the Assam NRC was out on August 31, Ghosh has reiterated his demand, saying, “We demand that just like Assam, NRC should also be implemented in Bengal.”
Ghosh has also warned that “if the Trinamool government is not willing to bite the bullet, we (BJP) will implement it and drive out Bangladeshi Muslims from the state after we come to power in 2021.”
Even today, Ghosh talks about the “security threat” that illegal Bangladeshi Muslims pose to the inhabitants of the state and the country.
Interestingly, Ghosh harps on the phrase “illegal Bangladeshi Muslims” instead of “illegal Bengladeshis”.
The Trinamool perceives it as an attack on the 28 per cent Muslim population in West Bengal (though unofficially the numbers have gone up), which has traditionally voted for the party led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
No wonder the Trinamool passed a resolution in the floor of the Bengal Assembly last Friday to criticise the NRC in Assam, in which more than 19 lakh people did not make the cut.
Mamata announced on the floor of the House, “The Assam Accord was signed during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime so that peace and tranquility returned to Assam. This was not acceptable to any other states.”
As BJP raised objections, Banerjee turned political, saying: “We will never let the BJP implement the National Register of Citizens in West Bengal.”
Twenty-eight per cent vote is very significant for the electoral success of the Trinamool with West Bengal set to go to the polls in 2021. That’s why it’s not just important for the Trinamool to oppose any effort by the BJP to ask for NRC in state, but also to be seen opposing the same.
Hence on Sunday, Trinamool workers took the issue to the streets. Medium scale rallies and mohalla meetings were organised by the ruling party to express its “stiff opposition” to any move aimed at implementing NRC in the state.
And it wasn’t just limited to Kolkata. Districts like Burdwan, Birbhum and Medinipur too witnessed protest rallies by the Trinamool workers against NRC in Bengal.
Some of the events were also attended by the top ministers of the Mamata Banerjee-led government with Trinamool Congress General Secretary Partha Chatterjee saying that his party has “vowed not to allow NRC in Bengal”.
This is not the first time that NRC is being discussed in Bengal. In the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP President Amit Shah had stated in many of his rallies that the BJP will bring NRC in Bengal if it comes to power.
In March this year in Alipurduar district, Shah had said, “If the BJP comes to power, we will bring NRC here to throw out all infiltrators and illegal immigrants. We will also ensure that the Hindu refugees are not touched. They are very much a part of our country.”
West Bengal has been the focus of the saffron party ever since 2018. The BJP had made inroads in the violence-ridden panchayat polls last year and in the Lok Sabha elections this year, their tally jumped from 2 to 18.