July 30 was the most important date for about 3.29 crore applicants in Assam, waiting to prove their Indian nationality by making it to the second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The list which was made public yesterday stripped about 40 lakh applicants of their nationality, leaving them in the doldrums uncertainty. Chief Minister of West Bengal, who has been vocal about the Assam’s NRC, called a press meet to give her reaction on the same. Reacting sharply to the huge exclusion, she alleged that it was a political agenda of the Bharatiya Janata party to weed out Bengali and Bihari citizens from Bihar. She said, “We are worried, as from our sources we have come to know that many citizens with Aadhaar cards have also been declared as refugees.” She further informed that a team of Trinamool Congress MPs would visit Assam and if required then she herself would also pay a visit.
The AITMC supremo since long has been an open critic of the Assam NRC. She has also been vocal about this being a political propaganda to garner votes. With 4 million names listed in the draft NRC, she reasserted her stand, of this being a political weapon to isolate Bengalis, irrespective of them being a Muslim or Hindu. When asked about Bengal accommodating those shunned by Assam, she said that she would consider, but then why should any state throw out so many out of their state in the first place.
Mamata’s sharp barb with regards to NRC is nothing new. Earlier this year, she had openly criticized the NRC policy and had accused the Assam government of conspiring against its Bengali speaking citizens. Following which an FIR had been registered against her by the Assam police.
Her direct attack on NRC and BJP, despite being predictable, will definitely not go down well with the central government, especially, when the election is just round the corner.
Given the fact that BJP leaders from Bengal, were quick enough to come out in defence of NRC, indicates, that this time around they are well prepared. “Bengal’s Chief Minister is herself on a sticky wicket and hence is making a noise by dragging in the Bihari-Bengali angle. People will be given a chance to make claims and raise objections on the publication of NRC draft list,” Rahul Sinha, BJP While BJP president, Dilip Ghosh has hinted at the implementation of NRC in Bengal if BJP comes into power.
Political analysts feel that these comments made by BJP leaders have further dented the prospect of the saffron party in Bengal. “Dilip Ghosh’s comment on Bengal is not just detrimental but will injure BJP’s performance in Bengal. I presume, the steps being taken Bengal’s CM is only going to help her boost her political image not just in the state but also nationally,” said Kolkata-based political analyst Biswanth Chakraborty.
He maintained that Mamata was playing her cards well, especially at a time the general election is just approaching. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins all 42 seats in Bengal, coming elections.”
(The author is a Kolkatta-based journalist)