Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP on Tuesday claimed that the process of CAA implementation has started in the country and West Bengal will not be left out of it.
His comment comes a day after the Centre decided to grant Indian citizenship to minorities mostly from Pakistan, who have migrated to India, and are currently living in two districts of Gujarat, under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and not the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA).
According to a Union home ministry notification, those Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians residing in the districts of Anand and Mehsana in Gujarat will be allowed registration as a citizen of India.
Responding to a question on the Centre’s notification, Adhikari said, “The CAA has already been rolled out in two districts of Gujarat by the notification giving citizenship to certain minority groups who came from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan".
“Bengal cannot be left out of the CAA implementation process. The Matua community members and other backward castes like namasudras will get certain benefits soon. The CAA will also be rolled out in our state," the Nandigram MLA said.
BJP MLA Ashim Sarkar, however, sang a different tune wondering what was the need for Citizenship Act in 2019 if citizenship was granted under the 1955 Act.
“It is good that refugees in two districts of Gujarat are getting citizenship under the 1955 Act. But my question is, then what was the need for passing a new law in 2019? I think there should be a clarification about when CAA will be implemented in the country," Sarkar said.
The Narendra Modi government wants to grant Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians — who had come to India till December 31, 2014.
The CAA was passed by the Parliament in 2019 but the law is yet to be implemented as rules under it have not been framed.
A few months back, Sarkar, a BJP legislator from the Matua community-dominated Haringhata constituency, had exuded confidence that the CAA would be implemented before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls but also cautioned that the delay in implementing the law would hurt the party’s support base among the refugees.
Union Minister of State for Shipping, Santanu Thakur, said, “I can only say if the CAA is implemented, it will be of great help to members of backward castes including the Matua community." Notably, Thakur, the Bangaon Lok Sabha MP, belongs to the Matua community.
Around 30 lakh Matuas reside in West Bengal, and the community can influence results of at least five Lok Sabha seats and nearly 50 assembly constituencies in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the ruling party in West Bengal will never allow the CAA to come into force in the state.
“The BJP will not be able to roll out the CAA in the country. Suvendu Adhikari is making tall claims ahead of the 2023 Panchayat polls as part of their effort to polarise the society," he alleged.
Both the Congress and the CPI(M) also echoed the TMC’s stand on the issue.
“We will not allow the CAA to be implemented in the country. The BJP cannot impose any such decision without any consensus. None of the secular parties in the country will allow this to happen," CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.
West Bengal Pradesh Congress President and Berhampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also said the BJP is making “empty noises about the CAA implementation".
“The Congress stands for integration and harmony, not dividing the society along religious lines," he added.
The promise of implementing the controversial CAA had been a major poll plank of the BJP in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. The saffron party’s leaders consider it a plausible factor that led to the rise of the BJP in Bengal.
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