Slamming the Centre over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and its proposal for a pan-India NRC, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday that both were against the basic principles of the Constitution.
She said she would support the Bill, expected to be tabled in Lok Sabha next week, if citizenship is given to each and every refugee, irrespective of their religion.
Claiming that at least 30 people have committed suicide in the state due to panic over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being implemented here, Banerjee said, in a secular country like India, citizenship can never be accorded on the basis of religion.
Criticising the Center for failing to control price rise and tackle slowdown, the chief minister said the BJP government has failed to revive the economic situation and is busy conducting mock fights of “Hindustan and Pakistan”.
Members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan facing persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship when the proposed amendments to the six-decade-old Citizenship Act come into effect.
According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the new law, however, will not be applicable in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those tribal regions which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Both the NRC and the CAB are being used to divert attention of people from the ongoing economic slowdown in the country, Banerjee, also the TMC supremo, said while addressing a party rally here.
“The NRC and the CAB are both two sides of the same coin. Will oppose them tooth and nail,” she said.
The CAB was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this year but lapsed.
“You (BJP) can pass CAB in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as you have majority, but we will not accept it and oppose it till the end. I would ask all political parties to oppose it. There can’t be differentiation on the basis of religion. India is a secular country,” she said.
Hitting out at the “inflitrator” jibe of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Banerjee wondered whether all the governments elected so far are “illegal”.
“You are calling Muslims infiltrators, if it is so, then since Independence so many governments have been formed both at states and Centre, with votes of all the communities, will you now declare those governments as illegal too?” she asked.
“In 2014 and 2019, the BJP won the elections and they also got votes of all the communities. So is the BJP government also illegal as they have also got votes of so-called infiltrators,” she said.
Banerjee also took shots at the Centre over steep price rise of onions.
“Prices of onions are skyrocketing but they are busy in Hindustan-Pakistan fights. Will that yield onions for people? It is astounding that the finance minister stands up in the House and says she does not eat onions. Whose subject is price rise? It’s the Centre’s responsibility,” Banerjee said while addressing the annual ‘Sanhati Dibas’ rally at Mayo Road in the heart of the city.
“The economy of the country is in a slump. The country will go bankrupt in the future. People will go bankrupt,” she said.
“People’s money is no longer safe. If you keep your savings at home, they will usurp it in the name of demonetisation. If you keep your money in the bank, there is no guarantee for its safety,” Banerjee said.