Amit Shah focusses on NRC, Citizenship Bill at WB rally

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on April 11, 2019

BJP national president Amit Shah.

The National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill have emerged as key issues in the Darjeeling hills with both BJP President Amit Shah and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at loggerheads over it.

The BJP is pitching the NRC as a strong step against infiltrators and illegal immigrants. Shah, during his rally at Kalimpong, in the hill district of Darjeeling, spoke in favour of the issue, claiming that it does not affect Gorkhas and some ethnic tribes of the region. Through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the BJP will look to grant citizenship to religious minorities who have been persecuted in the neighbouring countries.

On the other hand, Banerjee has raised objections to both the policies, claiming that several people will lose citizenship and voting rights.

The NRC is a document meant to contain names of all genuine citizens of Assam. It raked up a controversy with several people claiming that their names were omitted from the citizenship list.

NRC across India

Shah promised the implementation of the NRC across the country if voted to power again. He also promised withdrawal of Article 370 from Kashmir.

“We have promised in our manifesto that once Narendra Modi forms the government again, we will implement the NRC across the country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country,” he said.

He attacked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, blaming her for attempting to stall its implementation and creating a fear psychosis around it.

“Didi (Mamata Banerjee) keeps telling that Gorkhas will be inconvenienced once the NRC is in place. These are lies. And no one can question them (Gorkhas) on their citizenship,” Shah said, seeking to allay fears. “Only those who have faced religious persecution will be granted citizenship,” he added.

‘Focus on Darjeeling’

Shah is the first senior BJP functionary to address a rally in the hills in over a decade.

Darjeeling is strategically located in proximity to international borders — Nepal, Bhutan and China. For Banerjee, this is the last bastion which she has failed to conquer, while for the BJP, this is a prestigious seat, one that they have been winning since 2009.

BJP had previously got support from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a hill party led by local strongman Bimal Gurung.

Darjeeling will go to polls on April 18.

Mamata hits back

Barely 50 km away from Shah’s venue, the West Bengal Chief Minister, at a rally in Darjeeling’s Chowkbazaar, hit back at the BJP and Shah.

She said: “The Constitution was under threat during BJP’s rule” and alleged that the BJP was trying to “take advantage of the political turmoil in Darjeeling.”

Published on April 11, 2019

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