Hindustan Times, Kolkata
File photo: BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. (PTI)
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will start campaigning from January for implementation of the new citizenship law in poll-bound West Bengal, the party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and national vice-president Mukul Roy announced at a public meeting in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon.
The issue is bound to increase political tension in the state as chief minister Mamata Banerjee is opposed to the law and has declared that she will never enforce it.
Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, said, “What stopped the BJP from enforcing the law earlier? Since it is ready to go ahead now it should start with Assam.”
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act offers citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014. Opponents of the law, among whom Banerjee is a prominent face, insist that it is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it leaves out Muslims and links citizenship to faith in a secular country.
Accusing Banerjee of appeasing Muslims, Vijayvargiya said at a BJP programme at Mayo Road in Kolkata that his party will hit the streets next month to campaign for the implementation of the law.
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“The chief minister calls the Prime Minister outsider. She calls the Union home minister outsider. But to her, the Rohingya refugees, who are spreading terror, and the infiltrators from Bangladesh are not outsiders. Are you (Mamata Banerjee) their aunt?” said Vijayvargiya.
“Mamata Ji is opposed to giving citizenship to Hindus who came to India as refugees. Why should we allow that? Do Hindu refugees not have the right to live as citizens with equal status?” he said.
Mukul Roy made it clear that the issue would be raised by the BJP during campaign for the crucial assembly elections due in six months.
“We will go to the people. Citizenship is an important issue. The TMC cannot read the writing on the wall. That is immaturity in politics. We will win the election with more than 200 (of 294) seats. If we cannot win more than 200 seats all this hard work will mean nothing,” said Roy.
The TMC leadership said it will resist all attempts by the BJP to enforce the law in the state.
“Mamata Banerjee made her stand clear long ago. We are opposed to the law and we will resist the BJP,” said TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy.
CPI(M) lawmaker and leader of the Left parties in the state assembly Sujan Chakraborty said, “We are aware of the BJP’s plans but I will not react right now.”
The CPI(M)’s central and state leadership are opposed to the law.