‘Over my dead body’: Mamata's tough stance against Citizenship Act

Wednesday 18th December 2019 06:19 EST

KOLKATA: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a massive rally in Kolkata against the citizenship act, as she dared the BJP-led Centre to implement the new legislation in her state. Hundreds of workers and supporters of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress marched along with her during the march, which started from a statue of BR Ambedkar on Red Road and ended at Jorasanko Thakurbari.

“As long as I am alive, we will not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. They can dismiss our government if they want. We will not surrender,” Banerjee said while addressing the rally. “They will have to implement CAB and NRC in Bengal over my dead body. When we raised our voice against NRC, we were alone. Now, other chief ministers are speaking out,” the chief minister said. “Today Delhi’s CM said that he won’t allow this. Bihar’s CM has said that he won’t allow NRC, I tell him don’t allow Citizenship Amendment Act too. Chief ministers of MP, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Kerala have said that. Everyone has to say it,” she said.

The Bengal chief minister took a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s slogan ‘Sabha Sath, Sabka Vikas, reminding the party that it was for people. “Only the BJP will remain here and everyone else will be made to leave. It’s their politics. It’ll never happen. India belongs to everyone. Agar sabka sath nahi rahega toh sabka vikas kaise hoga? Who is the citizenship act for? We’re all citizens,” she said. Mamata Banerjee declared that her party will continue its protest until the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC are withdrawn. Before Banerjee’s rally started, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted to call it ‘unconstitutional’. “I am extremely anguished that CM (chief minister) and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA, the law of the land. This is unconstitutional. I call upon CM to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation,” the governor tweeted.

On Sunday, Dhankhar had accused Mamata Banerjee of wasting public money on an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act campaign on television instead of ensuring police effectively curbed the state-wide arson. He also demanded the immediate withdrawal of the ‘advertisements’ calling them unconstitutional. The state has witnessed violent protests against the citizenship act with protesters torching trains, railway stations, buses and targeting government officials. The government suspended internet services in some districts of the state as a precautionary measure as protests against the citizenship law continued. Banerjee’s tough stance against the law has given rise to another round of conflict with the BJP.

The BJP has even warned imposing President’s Rule would be the only option left if violence over the Citizenship Act continued in West Bengal as it blamed chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her “appeasement policies”. The party’s national secretary Rahul Sinha said that Mamata Banerjee has done little to contain the spiralling violence. She is one of the five chief ministers who is campaigning against changes in the citizenship law and declared that they may not implement it. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was among the first to declare that his state would not implement the new citizenship law which it considers to be “unconstitutional”. Punjab and West Bengal soon followed. Chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Baghel also issued similar statements last week against the law.

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