The CAA/NRC has become a major campaign issue for 2021 West Bengal assembly election, as two major contenders, TMC and BJP, are repeatedly raising the issue in almost every rally. A few days ago, when BJP president Amit Shah visited West Bengal, he outspokenly said that there is no question of stepping back on CAA, and every illegal Bangladeshi in West Bengal must be disenfranchised.
Retorting to Amit Shah’s stance, Mamata Banerjee declared that all Bangladeshi immigrants settled in West Bengal are Indian citizens. Banerjee ignored the fact that the citizenship is outside the jurisdiction of state government in order to appease the voters.
At a rally in Kaliaganj in Uttar Dinajpur district, an area dominated illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, Banerjee said, “Those who have come from Bangladesh are citizens of India… They have got citizenship. You don’t need to apply for citizenship again. You have been casting your votes in elections, electing PM and CM, Assembly, Zila Parishad… Now they are saying that you are not citizens. You all are bonafide citizens of this country.”
The TMC government regularized 119 more refugee colonies and issue them land pattas as a stamp of citizenship. “You have an address, ration card, voter card, driving license. There is no need to get this new card of the BJP. Don’t worry, you will always find this didi beside you. Your family is my family. I will not let anybody take away the rights of our people,” told Banerjee to the illegal immigrants, who gathered at the rally in large numbers.
It is evident that Mamata Banerjee is trying to reverse the partition by issuing the legal documents and land pattas to illegal immigrants. Mamata Banerjee’s love for illegal immigrants, specifically those who belong to a particular community is not new. Given the fact that they are Mrs Banerjee’s most loyal vote bank, she takes care of them, even at the risk of national security, and socio-economic development of the state.
West Bengal is the second most affected states with illegal immigrants after Assam. After the 1971 war, almost 1 crore Bangladeshis migrated to Assam and West Bengal, and very few of them left back to the homeland. West Bengal also suffers from the influx of a large number of Rohingya migrants, who are also a major security threat.
Mamata Banerjee government has also decided to regularize all the illegal colonies, where more than two lakh illegal immigrants, who moved to the state after the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. These illegal immigrants are concentrated in border districts like North and South 24 Parganas, North and South Dinajpur, Nadia, Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
The move to regularize the illegal colonies will neutralize the central government’s NRC exercise and Citizenship Amendment Bill’s push. Mamata Banerjee clearly said that refugees are “na ghar ka na ghat ka (don’t belong anywhere)”, and therefore it is necessary to regularize the illegally occupied land and hence the citizenship.
The government’s decision to woo illegal immigrants, just because they can turn into loyal vote bank, is dangerous for national security as well as the socio-economic condition of the state. This will also anger the citizens of West Bengal, who had to bear the burden of illegal immigrants.