Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, in North 24 Parganas on May 14, 2024.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, in North 24 Parganas on May 14, 2024.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Emphasising that the matter of citizenship lies with the Centre, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on May 14 assured the Matua community that its members would get citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee can never stop CAA implementation.

“Mamata didi can never stop CAA implementation, the matter lies with the Central government,” Mr. Shah said addressing a rally at Bongaon in the State’s North 24 Parganas. Bongaon, with the majority of the Matua population, will go to polls in the fifth phase of the election on May 20. BJP has renominated Shantanu Thakur, a leader of Matuas and descendant of the founders of the Matua sect for the Bongoan Lok Sabha seat. Matua sect was started in mid 19th century and members are mainly scheduled caste who migrated from Bangladesh to bordering areas of West Bengal.

Mr. Thakur was elected from the seat in 2019 and is contesting against Biswajit Das, another Matua leader who defected from the BJP to the Trinamool Congress.

On March 11, 2024, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified Rules for the CAA, where the people seeking citizenship under the Act can apply through a portal. However, there are no reports of representatives of the Matua community applying through the portal.

The Home Minister accused Ms. Banerjee of “lying” and spreading “falsehood” about the CAA. “Mamata Banerjee is lying that anyone who applies for citizenship under the CAA will face problems. I have come to assure the people of the Matua community that no one will face any trouble. You will get citizenship and will be able to live with respect in the country,” he said.

Prior to this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing election meetings in West Bengal, had accused the Trinamool Congress leadership of ‘pandering to her vote bank’ and not allowing implementation of CAA in West Bengal. Mr. Modi had also alleged that Trinamool has turned Hindus as second grade citizens in the State.

The Home Minister also spoke in the same vein and accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of “taking out rallies in support of infiltrators to appease her vote bank”.

“Why is she against refugees obtaining citizenship? She is supporting infiltration in Bengal but opposes Hindu refugees getting citizenship. She is taking out rallies against the CAA and supporting infiltrators,” he said.

Later in the day, while addressing a rally at Uluberia in the State’s Howrah district, Mr. Shah said, “Rohingyas and Bangladeshis are Mamata Banerjee’s vote bank in Bengal”.

Not only the BJP, the Trinamool leaders, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, have used the CAA in the election campaign highlighting that the Act was anti-Muslim and a precursor of the National Register of Citizens.

Violation of MCC

During the day, a delegation of Trinamool, which consisted of Rajya Sabha MPs Saket Gokhale and Sagarika Ghose, submitted a deputation to the Election Commission and accused the Prime Minister of wrongfully invoking religious sentiments to create communal tension among the people of India.

“We have flagged the repeated violation of the Model Code of Conduct by PM @narendramodi with the Chief Election Commissioner. The Prime Minister has been wrongfully invoking religious sentiments to create communal tension among the people of India. The inaction of @ECISVEEP in the face of such violations is unacceptable and we urge them to take immediate action!,” Trinamool tweeted from its official handle.

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