Suvendu Adhikari, leader of the opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, on Saturday challenged Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop the implementation of the CAA in the state.
Speaking at a rally in Thakurnagar, North 24 Parganas district, an area dominated by the Matuas whose roots are in Bangladesh, Adhikari said the “CAA law does not suggest that anyone’s citizenship be taken away from anyone who is a bona fide resident with legal documents”. .
“We have spoken about the CAA several times. The Citizenship Amendment Act will be rolled out in the state. If you’ve got guts, make sure it’s not forced,” the Nandigram MLA said in a clear reference to the prime minister.
The CAA facilitates the granting of citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
But since the rules under the law have not yet been set by the government, no one could be granted citizenship until now.
“Members of the Matua community will also be granted citizenship,” Adhikari said at the public meeting.
Narendra Modi’s government at the center had “fulfilled one of its promises by revoking Article 370 in Kashmir after winning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Adhikari claimed.
“Similarly, the BJP will keep its promise on CAA implementation…the central government does not believe in taking rights away from anyone. Our prime minister does not believe in divisive politics,” the BJP leader said. A politically important community, the Matuas are split into the BJP and TMC camps.
Members of the Matua community, which make up a large portion of the state’s recorded caste population, migrated to West Bengal since the 1950s, mainly due to religious persecution in erstwhile East Pakistan and then Bangladesh.
With an estimated 30 lakh Matuas in the state, the community has influence over at least five Lok Sabha seats and nearly 50 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
Union Minister and BJP Bongaon MP Shantanu Thakur said the CAA “will be a reality in West Bengal and Narendra Modi’s government is determined to realize the goal”.
TMC leader and senior West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim said that ahead of the 2023 panchayat polls and 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is playing with the CAA for “the purpose of voting bank politics”.
“The BJP tries to play the same CAA card when there is an election. But we will never let that happen,” Hakim said.
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