After drawing flak, Mamata backtracks on ‘referendum’ demand

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on December 20, 2019 Published on December 20, 2019

Student organisations at a demonstration against Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC, in Kolkata on Friday   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Smriti Irani dubs West Bengal CM’s comments on CAA an insult to Parliament

After drawing flak from different quarters for her “referendum” comments on the Citizenship Act, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to have backtracked on the statements on Friday.

At a public rally on Thursday, the Chief Minister had sought a United Nations-monitored referendum on the Centre’s , Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. At a press meet at the party headquarters, on Friday, she clarified that she was only seeking an “opinion poll” and categorically denied making the “referendum” comment.

“I did not say referendum. I said gana vote (public opinion). I meant an opinion poll overseen by experts like the Human Rights Commission. I have full faith on my country and its people. I want an opinion poll on CAA and NRC,” she said.

At the rally, Banerjee had said: “BJP should go for a United Nations-monitored referendum on Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC. If they lose this mass vote, then they should step down.”

Banerjee announced continuous agitations across the State beginning Monday (December 23) demanding withdrawal of CAA. However, there will not be any protests on Christmas.

The Chief Minister also appealed to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to withdraw the CAA and ensure peace.“Listen to the voice of democracy. Do not be arrogant,” she said adding that BJP’s vote share in the just concluded Parliamentary elections stood at 38 per cent. “This means 62 per cent of the people in the country.

Criticism for Mamata

Earlier in the day, Union Minister Smriti Irani had slammed Banerjee’s comments for seeking a UN-monitored referendum, and, said, this was an “insult to the Indian Parliament”.

The Minister pointed out that the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by both Houses; and Banerjee should apologise for it. “I think no one in the country will agree to her (Banerjee’s) views and she is questioning the legislative passed by the Parliament,” the Union Minister told reporters on the sidelines of a programme organised by the West Bengal Hosiery Association

The government will ensure that rights of all the citizens are protected and CAA does not strip the right of any Indian. Statements from the chief minister, she said, are an attack on the democratic structure of the country.

“I hope that strict action will be taken by the perpetrators of violence,” Irani said.

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Published on December 20, 2019
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