Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Mamata doubles down, says won’t allow CAA, NRC, UCC

- HT Correspond­ent letters@hindustant­imes.com

KOLKATA: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her Trinamool Congress (TMC) party’s opposition to the Citizenshi­p (Amendment) Act, the National Registry of Citizens, and the Uniform Civil Code, even as she pointed out that while political expediency may have forced some parties to approach minority communitie­s, this is unlikely to help their electoral cause.

Banerjee’s comments came when she addressed a gathering during Eid prayers in Kolkata on Thursday. “My raza (wish) is equality of all religions, ensuring your safety... No NRC, no CAA and no UCC. Every citizen has his rights. Ask your family members, who work outside the state to come and cast their votes, else they may strike off their names. If CAA is the head of a fish, NRC is its tail. The UCC forms the remaining portion of the fish,” Banerjee said while attending Eid celebratio­ns on Red Road.

Her comments come a day after Union home minister Amit Shah said that the TMC supremo was misleading people over the issue of CAA.

The Centre has repeatedly pointed out that CAA will not take away anybody’s citizenshi­p. There is also no national effort to create a NRC, as was done in Assam following a Supreme Court order, the government has previously said. And the UCC has been implemente­d only in Uttarakhan­d. Banerjee, whose party is contesting all 42 seats in the state -- it won 22 last time and the BJP, 18 -- also added that an outreach to the minorities by some parties would not work.

“Now that elections are approachin­g, you are calling some selected minority leaders and asking them what do they want. I say, they don’t want anything. It is not easy to win their faith and love.”

While she did not name the BJP, it was clear that her comments were aimed at the party. BJP spokespers­ons accused her of trying to “trigger communal violence”. Banerjee’s appearance at the event on the last day of Ramzan came even as she has been repeatedly targeted by BJP leaders for what they claim is her alleged appeasemen­t of Muslims.

“I don’t know how to hate. I don’t give speeches. I don’t divide (people). I am against NRC and CAA. I want all to live as brothers. If you stay united none would be able to harm you. If I need to lay down my life I am ready for it. I am not afraid of death,” she said.

The chief minister also accused the BJP-led Union government, without naming it, for allegedly targeting party leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“When elections approach, some people want to spread fear. They want to arrest everyone using the NIA, CBI, IT and ED. I say that it would be better that they construct a prison where everyone can fit in. India has a population of 1.3 billion. Can you put everyone in jail?” she said.

“In Bengal the fight is between the TMC and the BJP. We will see what INDIA alliance does at the centre. But in Bengal not a single vote should go to any other political party, other than the TMC,” she said. The Congress and the Left Parties are also in the fray in the state.

“Earlier (ahead of 2021 West Bengal assembly polls) they (the BJP) had said abki baar 200 paar (the BJP said it would win more than 200 seats in the state election). But they were finished at 70. Now they are saying abki baar 400 paar (the BJP has said it will win over 400 seats along with its allies). I would ask them to cross 200 first, then you may swim,” she said.

West Bengal BJP leader Rahul Sinha said:“Mamata Banerjee is trying to trigger communal violence. I would urge everyone, including our brothers from minority community, not to fall into this trap. She is misleading people and inciting them over CAA and NRC. I would also appeal to the ECI to censor such communal statements.”

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