Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah on Saturday launched a scathing attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress president Rahul Gandhi today for opposing the National Register of Citizens in Assam and said that they should clarify whether the country comes first or the vote bank.
Attacking Banerjee in her backyard, the BJP president, who addressed a rally, accused the TMC of “patronising” infiltration from Bangladesh and corruption in West Bengal and gave a call for uprooting the TMC government.
Shah said the Assam accord was signed by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress had no problems with the NRC at that time. He alleged that for the sake of vote bank politics, Rahul Gandhi is not making his stand clear on illegal migration from Bangladesh.
Hitting back at Shah, the TMC said the BJP’s “communal politics will not work in Bengal”.
Virtually sounding the poll bugle for the next Lok Sabha polls in Bengal, Shah began his speech at the well-attended public rally with the slogan of uprooting the ruling TMC government from Bengal and said that he would visit all the districts in the state.
He said the party’s “Vijay Rath (victory march) will not stop”, until it comes to power in West Bengal. “Why do you (Banerjee) want to keep the Bangladeshi infiltrators? You should make your stand clear,” he said adding she was against the NRC for “vote bank politics”.
He claimed that infiltrators were a vote bank for the previous Communist government and now they have become the vote bank of the TMC. “Rahul Gandhi and Mamata didi should clarify whether national security is important for them or the vote bank. For the BJP, the country comes first,” Shah said.
AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera said the Congress was not opposed to the NRC but to the way it was being implemented in Assam. He accused Shah of doing politics over NRC.
Khera said that 80 per cent of the NRC work in Assam was done by Congress and the rest of it was done by the BJP after the Supreme Court’s directive. Shah said the TMC was engaged in propaganda by stating that refugees would driven out and said, “I assure that all the refugees that nothing will happen to them”.
The Centre has brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 for this purpose, he said. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants from Afghanistan Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction.
“But the Congress and the TMC should clarify whether they agree with the bill or not,” he said.
Shah said that some people talk about human rights of illegal migrants, but questioned the similar rights of the citizens of Bengal -- the Hindus and Muslims. “They don’t bother about that,” he remarked.
Referring to TMC posters saying ‘Anti-Bengal BJP to leave Bengal’ he said the saffron party is neither anti-Bengal nor anti-Bengali but is against the “misrule” of TMC.
He accused the TMC government of “patronising” corruption and wondered where did the Rs 3.59 lakh crore provided to the state by the 14th Finance Commission go.
“I want to ask everybody has anyone received any benefit from those funds. All the factories in Bengal have pulled down their shutters, only bomb making and arms factory are operating here,” he said.
Shah said that the people of Bengal had given a chance to the Congress, the communists and the TMC but “they failed to usher in development. Give a chance to the BJP under Narendra Modi. We will bring in development.”
Alleging that the TMC government had tried to put hurdles during the immersion of Durga idols, he said, “Once the BJP comes to power in the state, Durga puja, Saraswati puja will be celebrated with fanfare. Until the BJP assumes power in Bengal, our Vijay Rath will not stop.”
Shah accused the ruling TMC for blacking out news channels which covered his programme. “You (TMC) can blackout channels, but our BJP workers will carry my message to every corner of the state,” he said at the meeting.
Accusing Banerjee of a U-turn on the infiltration issue, BJYM president Poonam Mahajan urged the Trinamool Congress not to politicise issues related to national security. She targeted the TMC for scams such as Rose Valley, Saradha and Narada and alleged it has turned into a “Terror Making Machine”.
The Trinamool Congress termed Shah’s allegations as “baseless”. TMC chief national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien said Shah has “insulted Bengal and has spread blatant lies against the TMC”.
“The communal politics of BJP will not work in Bengal,” he said.
While BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed the rally was one of the biggest in Kolkata, the TMC said that it was a “flop show”.
“The BJP has just concluded another flop show in #Bangla. After the flop meeting, BJP is looking for excuses. They are saying their meeting was blacked-out. Black outs and blackmailing is what BJP does.
“Do not insult the media. All showed. We challenge BJP. Either they prove it or resign,” the TMC said in a statement.
The TMC on Saturday organised Dhikkar Diwas in various parts of the state, except Kolkata, against publication of the complete draft of NRC in Assam on July 30.
Shah was shown black flags by Youth Congress workers when he came out of the NSC Bose International airport here to attend a rally, the police said.