NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress to support the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament to give the refugees living in India the right to citizenship.
But Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee categorically refused, and asked him instead to withdraw the legislation.
Addressing a rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, home to the Dalit Matua community, Modi said India is the only place that can provide shelter to thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and refugees of other communities, who came from neighbouring countries to save themselves from communal violence.
“After the country was divided during independence, thousands of people including the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis had to take shelter in India due to communal violence.
“These refugees should get the right to citizenship. India is the only place that can provide them shelter,” Modi said addressing a packed ground here in North 24 Parganas district.
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“That’s why our government has come up with Citizenship Amendment Bill. I urge the Trinamool Congress leaders to support the Bill and help the refugee brothers and sisters to get their rights,” he said.
The Lok Sabha has already cleared the Bill, which is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to a television channel soon after, Banejree turned down the request, saying her party wouldn’t let the BJP to divide people and engineer violence between Bengalis and non-Bengalis, or between, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
“We oppose it. The government will have to withdraw it. Because we are all Indian citizens.
“They are asking for our support for citizenship amendment bill. Why should I support them? In the name of NRC, they have arranged to drive out 45 lakh Bengalis – 23 lakh of them muslims, and remaining 22 lakh Hindus – from Assam,” she said.
Banerjee said because of the citizenship bill, the entire North East is on fire. “We won’t allow them to damage the North-East,” she added.