‘Second war of independence’: TMC eyes citizenship bill to take on BJP ahead of state polls
KOLKATA: Buoyed by the success in the recent bypolls, which the ruling Trinamool Congress fought campaigning against the NRC, Mamata Banerjee's party has now eyed the Citizenship Ammendment Bill to reach out to voters ahead of the 2021 assembly polls, to corner the BJP.
Termed by Banerjee as the "second war of independence", campaign against the contentious bill will be at the centre of the party's poll pitch, said senior TMC leaders, who feel that 120 seats that have significant minority and refugee population will be a deciding factor in the next elections.
Members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan facing persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship when the proposed amendments to the six-decade-old Citizenship Act come into effect with passage of the bill.
Addressing a rally in Kolkata on Friday, Banerjee said she would support the bill if citizenship is given to each and every refugee, irrespective of their religion.
"We could not take part in the first freedom struggle which gave us our independence. But we will take part in the second freedom movement. We will resist NRC and CAB," said Banerjee, who has time and again taken shots at the BJP over the issue.
TMC leaders, who spoke to PTI on condition of anonymity, said the party's top brass is of the opinion that after National Register of Citizens (NRC), the bill would act as "nail in the coffin of the BJP in Bengal".
"We all have witnessed how the tide has changed against the BJP in Bengal in just six months after Lok Sabha polls. It was the NRC in Assam that went against them. Now, this CAB would cause more damage to the BJP. They have failed to gauge people's mood on these two issues," a senior TMC leader said.
"We too have regularised refugee colonies, but we didn't see religion in it. They (BJP government) can set a criteria for granting citizenship but religion can never be that criteria," the TMC leader said.
He exuded confidence that campaigning against the bill would reap benefits for the party in run up to the elections in the state where civic body polls are scheduled next year.
"Just like NRC, CAB too would be a blunder, if not on a bigger scale. It will act as a political trump card for us in Bengal against the BJP," he added.
Bengal being a bordering state, has housed a large number of refugees who came during Partition and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
Left parties have always bagged most of the seats having large number of refugee population, but after 2011, with regime change in the state, they switched loyalties to the TMC.
However, in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, BJP won a large number of seats in these refugee belts of the state. But after the NRC was published in Assam, in which a large numbers of Hindus were left out, the scales seem to have tilted in favour of the TMC in West Bengal as it wrestled Kaliaganj and Karimpur assembly seats, where it was a major issue, in bypolls.
According to sources in the TMC's parliamentary unit, it along with other opposition parties have decided on an eight-point agenda to cRead More – Source