Illegal migrants in border states is a major political issue for both regional and national parties.
New Delhi: The BJP is all set to take the battle over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to the home turf of Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee. After accusing the TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister of playing votebank politics over the NRC issue after she warned that it could lead to a “bloodbath” and “civil war”, Mr Shah plans to address his party’s youth wing rally in Kolkata on August 11, for which permission was finally granted by the state authorities after some delay.
The BJP president is likely to “expose” how Ms Banerjee is trying to play appeasement politics over an issue that would weed out illegal migrants from Assam, who are using resources meant for Indians and could also pose a security threat to the country. Mr Shah, in his speech in Parliament Tuesday, had said the NRC was the essence of the Assam Accord signed by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1985 but the Congress did not have the courage to implement it.
Illegal migrants in border states is a major political issue for both regional and national parties. Mr Shah was in West Bengal in June after two BJP workers were killed, allegedly by TMC supporters. The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise in Assam has left out over 40 lakh people from the final draft and a war of words had begun after the BJP claimed that a similar exercise would be implemented in West Bengal if the party came to power in that state. The BJP’s Delhi unit has also sought a similar exercise in the national capital.
West Bengal is one of the few states where the BJP’s organisational strength is yet to be stepped up despite the party claiming its support base has expanded immensely. While the BJP is accusing the TMC of resorting to blatant appeasement politics, the later accuses the saffron party of trying to divide people on religious grounds.
Reacting to the NRC issue, senior BJP leader and Union minister Arun Jaitley reminded both the Congress and the TMC that the country’s sovereignty was “not a plaything” and that “sovereignty and citizenship are the soul of India, imported votebanks are not”. He attacked the Congress, and in particular its president Rahul Gandhi, for taking a “contrarian position” on the illegal migrants issue to that of his father and grandmother and reminded Ms Banerjee about the position she had taken in 2005 on the illegal immigrants issue.
“Can India’s sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands,” Mr Jaitley wondered in a hard-hitting Facebook post, while asserting that “the principal duty of any government is to defend its borders, prevent any trespass and make the life of the country’s citizens safe and secure”.
Also, the Assam unit of the BJP’s Yuva Morcha filed a police complaint against Ms Banerjee on Wednesday, accusing her of inciting “hatred and tension”.
Earlier during the day, the BJP’s West Bengal state unit had claimed it was yet to get permission from the state authorities for the rally, forcing Mr Shah to say that he will “definitely go to Kolkata... If the state government wants, it can arrest me”. However, the state police later tweeted that permission had been granted. The TMC also took a swipe at the BJP and Mr Shah, claiming they had become nervous, and wished them “a happy journey to the land of peace and harmony”.