Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for mass protests against the new citizenship law, her party Trinamool Congress accused the Union government of “internationally embarrassing the country” and “making enemies out of friends”.
“We will never allow NRC exercise and Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in Parliament. The BJP can’t just bulldoze the states to implement it,” Banerjee said in Digha, where she stayed back after the Bengal Business Conclave concluded.
“They may send us to jail, may torture us, but we will not allow to divide our country. We will fight back and I am calling all parties and organisations to join us. We will go for a mass movement together against NRC exercise and Citizenship Act,” Banerjee said.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha Monday, while Rajya Sabha cleared it Wednesday. It became law after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent Thursday.
On Friday, Banerjee announced that the Trinamool Congress will organise a protest rally from BR Ambedkar statue to Jorashanko on December 16 and another from Jadavpur to Jadubabur Bazar on December 17. A rally will be also held from Howrah Maidan to Dorina Crossing on December 18. All the marches are likely to be led by the CM.
“All political parties except BJP are welcome to these protest rallies. We will organise protest in all districts with all religious representations,” she said.
The CM also said that she has cancelled her visit to Delhi to attend a meeting on the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.
Banerjee also expressed concerns over Indo-Bangla relations and the cancellation of India-Japan summit and said the developments are a “matter of shame for the country”.
“What turn has our ties with Bangladesh taken? Since the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, we had a good relation with them. Whenever they come to our country, the first thing they always do is praise the Indian government and people. Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh PM)… is Bangabandhu’s daughter. We all love her,” she told reporters in Digha on Friday.
The cancellation of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip came a day after Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called off their visits to India following enactment of the controversial law.
Expressing solidarity with the people of Assam and the Northeast, where violent protests had been raging over the issue, she blamed the BJP-led government at the Centre for the growing tension and the deteriorating of law and order situation in the region.
Reiterating that her fight against the amended Act was a “second war of independence”, Banerjee said she would hit the streets to seek its revocation. The CM also stressed that her government would not cooperate with the Centre for enacting the “divisive and draconian” law.
“In a democracy, even if you have majority in terms of numbers in Parliament, it doesn’t mean you can impose your views. The essence of democracy lies in building consensus, taking everybody along,” she said. Banerjee has also convened a meeting on December 20 of all TMC Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and MLAs to discuss the party’s strategy on the new law and the NRC.
Meanwhile, TMC spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien referred to the new citizenship law as a “maha emergency”. “The northeast is burning and you are trying to score cheap political points with divisive rhetoric. This government is internationally embarrassing the country. It is a thing when your enemies don’t agree with you now managing to turn friends into enemies. International visits are being canceled,” O’Brien said.
He added, “During the Emergency, things were shamelessly done. This is a maha Emergency because it is being disguised. Look at the media advisory issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Just the way it has been framed… it bars anything that ‘promotes anti-national attitudes and/or contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation’, which amounts to muzzling the media. That’s why we raised it very strongly in the Rajya Sabha.”