Nationalism featured prominently in BJP President Amit Shah’s speech as he promised to “throw-out infiltrators” from West Bengal by implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Shah, though, made it clear that Hindu refugees will not be affected or troubled.

“If the BJP comes to power we will bring in the NRC here to throw out all infiltrators and illegal immigrants. We will also ensure that the Hindu refugees are not touched. They are very much a part of our country,” Shah said while addressing a rally at Alipuduar, a North Bengal seat.

The NRC became a hugely contentious issue in Assam after the complete draft, released last year, omitted the names of several people who have been residing there for several decades. This saw the Trinamool Congress brand the BJP as an “anti-Bengali party”.

However, Shah’s comment on the NRC and protection of Hindu refugees gain significance in the Alipurduar and neighbouring Cooch Behar districts of the State. The districts have been grappling with immigrants and infiltrators (coming in from Bangladesh and via Assam) for quite some time now. Moreover, there is a rising acceptance of the BJP amongst the Scheduled Tribe communities and tea garden workers of the area.

Shah also criticised the Opposition leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, for questioning the Centre over air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot.

According to him, only a strong leadership under Narendra Modi could give a befitting reply to China (on Doklam) and to Pakistan for its terror tactics. Moreover, the Modi government was “working towards securing the country”.

“But the Opposition leaders are questioning the government (over the air strike). They want to hold talks with Pakistan. In this election, you have two ways — one leads you to Narendra Modi, the other to ‘Thugbandhan’ (a gang of thugs) of leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav,” he said.