Slamming the Centre over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, expected to be tabled on December 9, and its proposal for pan India NRC, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday (December 6) said both were against the basic principles of the Indian Constitution.
Claiming that at least 30 people have committed suicide in the state due to panic over the NRC, Banerjee said in a secular country like India, citizenship can never be accorded on the basis of religion. But if citizenship is given to each and every refugee, irrespective of religion and community, Banerjee said, she would support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB).
Backing Mamata, the Trinamool Congress also said it has issued a whip to its MPs for four days from Monday to Thursday in both Houses of Parliament in anticipation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill being introduced by the government, its national spokesperson Derek O’Brien said.
Addressing a press briefing, O’Brien said that the bill hurt the heart and soul of the idea of India.
“This is not about how many numbers BJP has in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. If you want to grant citizenship, grant citizenship to all. TMC has issued whip for four days from Monday to Thursday in both houses,” he said.
The bill seeks to grant citizenship to people without valid documents from minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.
The CAB, when passed by Parliament, will amend the Citizenship Act of 1955.
Both the NRC and the CAB were being used to divert attention of people from the ongoing economic slowdown in the country, Banerjee, also the TMC supremo said while addressing a party rally here.
“The NRC and CAB are both sides of the same coin. Will oppose them tooth and nail,” the chief minister said. The CAB was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this year but lapsed with the term of the previous Lok Sabha.
“You (BJP) can pass CAB in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as you have majority. But we will not accept it and will oppose till the end. There can’t be differentiation on the basis on religion. India is a secular country,” she said.
Referring to the recent Unnao incident in Uttar Pradesh where a rape victim was set on fire, Banerjee said the state’s BJP government had not provided security to the victim.
“Both the Hyderabad and Unnao incidents are shameful. My heart bleeds for the victims. There should be stringent laws to deal with such crimes,” the chief minister said.
(With input from agencies.)