Kolkata: A day after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee demanded the rollback of Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC during a ‘courtesy call’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit back, saying the opposition is misleading youth on the amended law.
Speaking at the Belur Math on Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, which is also celebrated as National Youth Day, Modi reiterated that the CAA is not meant to snatch anyone’s right but to give citizenship to “persecuted” religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"There are a lot of questions among the youth about the new citizenship law, and some are being misled by rumours around it... it is our duty to clear their doubts," the PM said at Belur Math in Howrah district. "I want to make this clear again that the CAA is not about taking away anybody's citizenship, but about granting citizenship," he added.
“Life became hell for my brothers and sisters in those countries due to their religion. Don’t you think we should stand with them in this crisis by providing them citizenship? Will it be justified if we send them back to these countries to be killed? Now it is up to the youth, especially the youth in Bengal, to stand for this cause,” he said.
Modi arrived at Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission on Saturday, and spent the night there. In the morning, he attended morning prayers and thanked the seers for hosting him during the visit, which he said was nothing short of a “pilgrimage” for him.
The PM is on a two-day visit to the city, during which he was greeted with black flags and angry slogans by protesters who say the amended citizenship law is anti-Muslim. On his arrival in the city, Modi met chief minister Mamata Banerjee, arguably his bitterest critic on the burning issue, in what the latter described as a “courtesy call”.
At the meeting, Banerjee, who chose not to receive the PM at the airport, said she had demanded the rollback of CAA, NRC and the National Population Register.
"I told him that we are against CAA, NRC and NPR. I told him there should be no discrimination among masses and no citizens are left out and tortured," she told journalists after meeting Modi at Raj Bhavan.
Moments later, she was present at an anti-CAA protest nearby. An hour or so later, Modi and Banerjee were seated on stage at the Millennium Park, savouring a delightful dance performance on the Hooghly river as the iconic Howrah Bridge.
The politically significant meet, which had exposed chinks in the opposition unity, came just two days after the TMC chief had declared to boycott an opposition meeting called by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on January 13 over the JNU violence, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and other "anti-people" policies of the Centre.