Accusing the BJP of giving false promises to the members of the politically significant Matua community on citizenship, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday claimed that those people have already been given all rights as citizens. Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, claimed that if the saffron party is voted to power, it will keep the people of West Bengal in detention camps as it has done to "14 lakh Bengalis" in Assam.
"Your Didi (the CM herself) has already ensured citizenship right of the Matuas by facilitating land deed to every refugee occupying government or private lands. Why is the citizenship issue being raked up again?" she said at public meetings held in North 24 Parganas district. Matuas, originally from East Pakistan, are a weaker section of Hindus who migrated to India during the Partition and after the creation of Bangladesh.
The Matua community, with an estimated population of three million in the state, can tilt the scales in favour of a political party in more than 30 assembly seats in Nadia, and North and South 24 Parganas districts bordering Bangladesh. It once stood behind the TMC but had supported the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP is saying that it will provide citizenship to them if voted to power.
"If your (Matua's) children study in educational institutes, if you have electricity and telephone connection in your name and address, you are already a citizen. How can the BJP promise you citizenship again?" Banerjee said at Baduria. She said that her government has declared a holiday on the birthday of Harichand Thakur, the spiritual guru of the Matuas, but the saffron party did not do it in states ruled by it.
The BJP is shedding crocodile tears for the backward community to win votes, the TMC boss claimed. A few people from the Matua community are spreading misinformation to help the BJP, she alleged.
"The (West Bengal) government is inclusive. It has tried to reach out to every community and sect," the chief minister said. At another poll meeting in Bijpur, she referred to the allowance given to every Durga puja committee, and stipends provided to Hindu priests and Imams.
"We don't discriminate. We reach out to every community unlike the BJP which only sow the seeds of discord," Banerjee said. Accusing the saffron party of conspiring to keep people of the state in detention camps, she said, "If you don't want to share the fate of 14 lakh Bengalis in Assam, if you don't want your names to be deleted from electoral rolls following the exercise of NPR (National Population Register), prevent the BJP from coming to power." Only the TMC can prevent the BJP from coming to power in West Bengal and only her party is putting up a fight against the saffron party, she claimed.
She also called for forming squads "to reply to the BJP's gun and bombs". At Hingalganj, Banerjee promised that a separate district will be carved out of Sunderbans by her government in future.