BJP national president JP Nadda on Monday said the execution of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been delayed due to the coronavirus, asserting that the law will be implemented soon.
Nadda, speaking at a meeting of social groups in north Bengal, accused the Mamata Banerjee government in the state of indulging in "divide and rule politics" to serve the political interests of her party -- the TMC -- unlike the BJP that works for the development of all.
"All of you will get the benefits of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. It has been passed in Parliament. We are committed to it," said Nadda. "Due to COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of CAA got delayed. But as the situation is slowing improving, work has started and rules are now being framed. It (CAA) will be implemented very soon."
A number of social groups in the region had requested Nadda to ensure early implementation of CAA as there is a vast population of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan in north Bengal. Riding the wave of the local sentiment for the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now CAA), the BJP had made deep inroads in the region. It had bagged seven out of the eight Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Assembly polls are due in the state in the first half of next year and the fight for power promises to be a tough one as Banerjee will seek to return as chief minister for the third straight time. North Bengal, which comprises eight districts, accounts for 54 of the 294 assembly seats. Indicating that the CAA would be a major poll plank of the BJP in the assembly polls, Nadda said BJP is committed to its implementation.
The citizenship law has become a flashpoint in West Bengal since before its enactment in Parliament last year, with the ruling TMC opposing the contentious legislation and the BJP pressing for its implementation. According to state BJP sources, the CAA will benefit more than 1.5 crore people across the country, including over 72 lakh in the West Bengal.
Accusing the TMC government of indulging in appeasement politics, Nadda said, “Banerjee's government has hurt the Hindu community in Bengal and now, the chief minister is trying to win over the Hindus in fear of losing her chair. All this is for vote-bank politics.”
“Banerjee believes in divide and rule policy because her government doesn't want to serve people. It wants to rule by any means. The TMC believes in divide and rule and BJP believes in brotherhood,” he added.
Soon after, TMC MP Derek O'Brien issued a statement and said it is not the season for politics. “In the best traditions of our great state, Bengal, this is that time of the year which is not the occasion for politics. Or for bickering. This is the time for joy and sharing. This culture, this decency, is deeply enshrined in the ethos of every person who lives in Bengal. The irony is not lost when the president of the BJP talks about 'divide and rule'."
O'Brien said 'divide and rule' is a ploy learnt from the colonial past and that is played out "deviously everyday by" the BJP. "Over the last six years, your party has done everything it can to 'divide and rule' the people of this great nation. Also, we did a #fact check of your speech today. Like your two other 'senior' colleagues, there were gaping holes in it. But no - we will not defile this auspicious occasion. This a special time for all of us in Bengal. Let's keep it that way.”
Nadda also spoke about allegations of the state government blocking central schemes. “She (Banerjee) keeps on saying 'hobe na...hobe na' (won't happen). Today, I would like to say 'hobe...hobe' (it will happen). Just wait till April (whne results of the 2021 assembly elections are likely to be out). She deprived crores of farmers and poor people in Bengal from Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna. You bring us to power and we assure that you won’t be deprived from these schemes,” he said.
Nadda promised a lasting solution to the concerns of the state's Gorkha community. “There are long-pending demands, one of which is to include 11 left-out Gorkha communities in the Scheduled Tribe list. I would like to assure the Gorkha community of fulfilling the promises we have made in our ‘ghoshnapatra’ (manifesto),” he said.
Nadda exuded confidence that the BJP will form the next government after the state Assembly polls in 2021 as the people state are fed up with the violence and cut-money culture of the TMC government. Nadda, who is on a day-long visit to take stock of organisational matters ahead of 2021 assembly elections, held separate meetings with BJP leaders of north Bengal region and social and religious groups.
(With inputs from PTI)