After facing protests by students for meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Raj Bhawan Saturday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday said she was the only leader to meet the Prime Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Kolkata, and asked him to rethink about withdrawing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
“I am the only leader who met Narendra Modi and told him that CAA, NRC and NPR cannot be implemented,” Mamata told the students. Clarifying her stand on meeting Modi, the chief minister said it was her constitutional obligation. This comes after Left students activists protested against her and demanded an explanation for diluting the fight against CAA.
Earlier in the day, Mamata said she has told PM Modi, after a meeting with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar today, to rethink and withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Speaking to the media outside Raj Bhawan, the chief minister said, “I told him that may be this is not appropriate time for me to say this. But we have been agitating against CAA and NPR. I told him we are against dividing people. No one should face atrocities. Please rethink on CAA. Please withdraw it. He said he is here to attend some scheduled programmes and that such matters can be discussed in delhi later.”
The Prime Minister, who arrived in Kolkata today evening on a two-day visit, was greeted with black flags and “Go back” slogans outside the airport amidst protests against the contentious CAA. Upon his arrival, Modi was greeted at the NSC Bose International Airport by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, city Mayor and state Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and other senior BJP leaders.
Subsequently, as a courtesy visit, PM Modi met Mamata where the CM discussed Bengal’s financial demands. “I met PM regarding some financial demands. We have Rs 28,000 crore due from the centre. Another Rs 7,000 crore is due which is regarding Bulbul (cyclone). I placed the states demand and he said he will look into it.”
The PM’s visit comes at a critical time when Bengal has been witnessing widespread protests against the new citizenship law. The meeting assumes significance as the new citizenship Act has emerged as the latest flashpoint in the state. Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail and the BJP is pressing for its implementation.
Later, while addressing party’s anti-CAA rally at Rani Rashmoni Road, the chief minister referring to the gazette notification by the Union Home ministry regarding CAA, said the notification will be only on paper, it will never be implemented either in the country or in Bengal.
“The CAA notification will only remain on paper but will never be implemented. We will not implement the CAA…This is unconstitutional, illegal and wrong,” Banerjee said while addressing the rally.
The Centre on Friday, in a gazette notification, announced that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will come into force from January 10.
She said those who are in power at the centre should not do whatever they feel like just because they have the
majority (in Parliament). “Those who are yet to understand the situation must wake up now. There is no point in sleeping while keeping your eyes open,” she said at the rally.
Meanwhile, at a separate event later today, PM Modi announced that five iconic museums of the country will be made of international standards. “This project will start from the Indian Museum of Kolkata, one of the oldest museums in the world. The renovation work to modernize the four iconic galleries of Kolkata, including Belvedere House, Old Currency Building, Victoria Memorial, has been completed. Our efforts are in the direction to convert Belvedere House into a Museum of the World,” said Modi.
He also said several important aspects of the country’s history were overlooked by historians who wrote about it after Independence without delving deeply into the subject. One of the key aspects of nation-building is to preserve the country’s heritage, he said.
“We want to show before the world our country’s heritage, wan to make India a hub of heritage tourism. Five iconic museums of the country will be developed to international standard, starting with the Indian Museum in Kolkata,” the prime minister said.