Bharatiya Janata Party national president J P Nadda on Monday said the execution of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and asserted that the law would be implemented soon.
Nadda, who was speaking at a meeting of social groups of north Bengal, accused the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal of indulging in "divide and rule politics" in the state to serve the political interests of her party - the Trinamool Congress, unlike the BJP which "works for the development of all".
"As far as the CAA is concerned, it has already been passed in parliament. All of you will get the benefits of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. We are committed to it," Nadda said.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its implementation got delayed. But as the situation is slowly improving, the work has started. The rules are now being framed and CAA will be implemented very soon. Under this act all the eligible people will definitely get Indian citizenship," Nadda told the social groups, who included Dalits, Gorkhas, Rajbanshis and other tribes.
Various social groups of the region had requested Nadda to ensure early implementation of the CAA as there is a vast population of refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan in north Bengal.
As the local sentiment was in favour of the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which later became an act, the saffron party had made deep inroads in the region, once considered a TMC bastion, by bagging seven of the eight Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Assembly polls are due in the state in April-May next year, and the fight for power promises to be a tough one as Banerjee will seek to return as chief minister for the third straight time.
North Bengal, which comprises eight districts, accounts for 54 of the 294 assembly seats.
Indicating that the CAA would be a major poll plank of the BJP in the assembly polls, Nadda said the party is committed to its implementation.
The citizenship law had become a flashpoint in West Bengal since before its enactment in parliament in 2019 with the ruling TMC opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail and the BJP pressing for its implementation.
According to state BJP sources, the CAA will benefit more than 1.5 crore people across the country, including over 72 lakh in the West Bengal.
Lashing out at the TMC government for its alleged "divide and rule policy" in Bengal, Nadda said only the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can take everybody along as he believes in the policy of "development for all".
"On one hand you have Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji who works for the development for all and on the other hand, you have West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has employed the policy of divide and rule to serve TMC's political interests," he said.
"Our philosophy is to take everyone along, but the philosophy of TMC divides the society and that party indulges in the politics of vote bank during the elections," he said.
Continuing his attack on the TMC, which has often been a harsh critic of the saffron party, the BJP president accused it of pursuing "appeasement" policies and indulging in vote bank politics.
"Mamata Banerjee government has deeply hurt and humiliated the Hindu community in the state. As elections are approaching, the TMC sensing a backlash has changed its tune and is now trying to lure people with all sorts of things," he said.
The only thing that the TMC does is to indulge in the politics of vote bank, whereas the BJP only indulges in the politics of serving every citizen, he said.
Nadda assailed the TMC government for not joining several central schemes, including Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhhi which he said were meant for the poor and farmers.
Stating that 76 lakh farmers of West Bengal are being deprived of government help under Kisan Samman Nidhhi because Banerjee did not allow its implementation, he said, "Mamata Ji stop doing politics with the rights of poor people. The day BJP forms government in Bengal within moments, we will implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme and PM Kisan Samman Nidhhi in the state".
Nadda thanked the Gorkha groups for their continued support to the BJP and said the party is committed to the "permanent political solution" to the problems of the Darjeeling hills and the demand for the recognition of 11 scheduled tribes of the Gorkha community.
"Their empowerment is our responsibility. Both the issues are there in our manifesto (2019 Lok Sabha polls). We are committed to it," he said.
Reaching out to the tea garden labourers in north Bengal, Nadda said the BJP government at the Centre had abolished the Plantation Labour Act and have been brought under the Minimum Wages Act.
Nadda also urged the BJP MPs from the state to make a list of all the local products in the state and formulate a scheme and a roadmap for their expansion. The Centre will brand and market these local products all across the world, he said.
He exuded confidence that the BJP will form the next government in West Bengal as the people there were fed up with the "violence and corruption" culture of the TMC.
Condoling the death of BJP MLA Devendra Nath Roy, who was found hanging near his house in North Dinajpur district, Nadda asserted that the party will take the matter to its logical conclusion as per the law and under the guidance of democracy.