Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on a two-day visit to West Bengal, slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today on the issue of the amended Citizenship Act (CAA). On 5 May, at a rally in Siliguri, northern Bengal, Shah raised the issue of the CAA and promised to implement the law that seeks to rehabilitate Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis fleeing Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in India once the Covid-19 pandemic was over.
Shah accused the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state of spreading rumours about the CAA. Banerjee, countering the accusation, said she would not implement the act in her state.
“I want to make it clear that Trinamool Congress is spreading rumours that CAA will not be implemented. As soon as the Covid pandemic is over, we will implement CAA… Mamata didi, you want infiltration to continue and you do not want to give citizenship to refugees who have come to Bengal. But Trinamool people hear me out, CAA was, is, and will be a reality,” said Amit Shah.
Banerjee hit back, saying that the BJP was a habitual liar and that everyone in the country was a citizen. “I consider continuous lying to be a kind of corruption… and saying the same thing repeatedly — his master’s voice, like a parrot — is corruption too. Already everybody is a citizen… If people are not citizens, how did they cast their votes? They have elected the prime minister and the chief minister. He has no right to use the issue of citizenship to insult people,” Banerjee said at a press conference.
The union home minister attacked the state government on a number of other issues, including violence, corruption, “cut money” (extortion) and the killing of BJP workers. Amit Shah said, “After coming to power for the third consecutive time, we believed that Mamata didi would rectify her ways, but she did not…. Until you end corruption, violence, cut money and syndicates (a euphemism for extortionists and other criminal elements operating in the private housing and infrastructure industries), the BJP will continue to fight you.”
Banerjee pointed at the infighting within Bengal BJP and wondered if Amit Shah was even aware of it. “He need not bother with what is happening in Bengal. He is the Home Minister, so he should look after Delhi, see what is happening in Uttar Pradesh, or how journalists were abused in Madhya Pradesh… Bengal is not within his control, so it is not proper for him to speak ill of the State,” said Banerjee.
In his speech, Shah brought up the incidence of crime in West Bengal, particularly the massacre at Village Bogtui in Birbhum on 21 March, where nine people including seven women and a child were burnt alive, and the rape and death of a minor at Hanshkhali, Nadia, on 14 April.
Citing the National Human Rights Commission’s report on the post-poll violence in West Bengal in 2021, Shah said, “Here there is no rule of law but the law of the ruler… Whenever anything happens in the country, Didi sends Trinamool delegations to those places, but Didi, why did you not send any team to BIrbhum or Nadia?”
Reacting to the allegations, Banerjee said, “Is he the home minister of India or the home minister of Bengal? Law-and-order (in the state) is not his subject. What he is saying is rubbish and beyond his jurisdiction.”