If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
This is how Mamata Banerjee intends to deal with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which Bharatiya Janata Party has vowed to implement as soon as Covid-19 vaccination is over: For all you know before the Bengal goes to poll in two months time. Even if not, the promise enough could be a game-changer.
CAA would sift refugees from infiltrators. It would benefit Bengali Hindus who crossed over from Bangladesh before 2014 but not Muslims from Bangladesh who came over for material gains and not because they were being persecuted in that neighbouring country. It could correct the historical anomaly which treats both of them as equal. One had been left with no option; the other came smelling greener pastures. Our neighbour’s Bengali Hindus have been reduced to the status of refugees (read the legacy of Nehru-Liaquat Pact here); their Bengali Muslims go beyond being refugees: Most are infiltrators.
Both, Bangladesh’s Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims, spell gold for political parties in West Bengal. One is at the mercy of these political opportunists for gains which are illegal in the eyes of law; the other are tended for being a captive vote bank. It should tell readers why Mamata exhorts the national slogan of Bangladesh—“Jai Bangla”—as Trinamool Congress slogan. Indeed in recent times, Anubrata Mondal of Trinamool Congress has availed another slogan: “Khela Hobe” (A game it would be) which was once phrased and used by Shamim Usman of Bangladesh. This “Bangladeshism” in West Bengal politics is an open invitation to infiltrator-supplying lobby by the ruling dispensation of the state.
So the strategy of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is to confuse Matuas or Bengali Hindus who remain refugees after decades. The ruling party claims BJP wouldn’t be true to its promise and is doing so only to win assembly polls. Why, its MP Mahua Moitra the other day ranted in the Parliament: If the Centre was serious, one year was enough time to frame rules thereof.
Of course these are political obfuscation and not factual. CAA already exists as an Indian law and has been signed by the President of India. This fact auto-implies Matuas and other refugees, who arrived before December 31, 2014, have already been granted citizenship. Only certificate-issuance remains, largely because of delays due to Covid-19 pandemic. Besides, eligible refugees could apply for Citizenship-by-Naturalization under existing rules.
By virtue of Amendments of Passport Act, Foreigners Act 2015, and by virtue of CAA 2019, persecuted refugees from Bangladesh who entered India within December 31, 2014 won’t be refused citizenship. If anything, the whining by TMC and Mamata is an expression of political restlessness.
Indeed we are not too far off when Trinamool Congress would resume anti-CAA protest 2.0. It’s been crying hoarse for Centre to notify CAA rules. They know passivity won’t help them in coming days. It would help if protests are galvanised on a national platform. We already have Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress’ Rahul Gandhi going public with determination not to have CAA implemented.
Let’s look at a fallout if Trinamool Congress resumes anti-CAA protests. Violence would happen, killings would occur and if Centre takes action against the ruling party of the state, they would play the victim card to the hilt before the assembly polls.
In recent past, Trinamool has been terming BJP as “Dangabaj” (riot-makers). In her own inimitable gibberish style, Mamata has relentlessly claimed on public platforms: “Danga Chai Na, BJP Tomay Chai Na, Chai Na, Chai Na, Chai Na”. All this spells another round of anti-CAA protests, violence in its wake, and the blame laid on BJP’s door. Truth to tell, it is straight from copybook of her predecessor Jyoti Basu.
There appears one more probable reason why Trinamool is looking for CAA rules notified as soon as possible. As per existing rules, application for Citizenship by Naturalization requires to be deposited at District Magistrate’s Office. If rules for CAA, 2019 too require application to DM, they would have the power to reject such applications and create obstacles. Such apprehensions won’t appear baseless considering how Mamata Banerjee created hindrance against two West Bengal cadre IPSs’ from joining Central deputation after they were ordered by MHA to do so in December. The two policemen couldn’t comply with MHA’s order as Banerjee refused to release them from State duty. Her party men may manipulate refugees by other means, including monetary gains.
Matuas and other refugees of West Bengal are aware of ground reality. Who knows they might be wiser and refuse to play ball with Trinamool. Their best interest is being citizens and not remain refugees, for this and coming generations. And CAA is their best bet.
Debjani Bhattacharyya is a columnist who’s a keen observer of politics and social changes.. A communication-strategist by profession having special aptitude for analytical jackknifing of information, Debjani is a Pharmaceutical Engineer & a Management Professional by her credentials.
Analysis of data & information for generating insights for policy planning is a passion while her other significant area of interest is the Constitution of India and its interpretations thereof. She’s a voracious reader with enormous affinity towards Classics of Bengali Literature. She is an opinion-maker on social media through her blog, twitter and facebook.