With the NRC becoming a political hot potato in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed on Wednesday 11 people have committed suicide fearing loss of citizenship. Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya asserted the exercise will be undertaken in the state but no Hindu will be deported.
Last week, Banerjee called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and raised the issue of NRC. "He [Shah] did not say anything about NRC in West Bengal. I have already clarified my stand that the NRC is not needed in West Bengal," Banerjee told reporters after the meeting.
"I handed over a letter to him, told him that of the 19 lakh people left out of NRC [in Assam], many are Hindi speaking, Bengali speaking and local Assamese. Many genuine voters have been left out. This should be looked into. I submitted an official letter," she further said.
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On Wednesday, Banerjee asked Block Development Officers and public representatives to visit every household to assuage the concerns of people about getting stripped of Indian citizenship.
BJP general secretary Vijayvargiya, however, insisted a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be prepared in the state but no Hindu will be left out.
"So many people have died. 11 people have died so far over this NRC panic. I would ask government officials and public representatives to visit every household in their respective areas and allay public fear," she told an administrative meeting at Debra in West Midnapore district.
"There will be no NRC in Bengal," she declared. The state's TMC government has also started issuing advertisements to television and print media asking people not to panic
A 4-minute audio-visual clip being aired by local TV channels shows Banerjee asking people not to panic or be misled by "false claims" about NRC.
BJP chief Amit Shah had repeatedly said during the Lok Sabha poll campaign that the NRC exercise, which was limited to Assam, will also be extended to West Bengal.
Banerjee said her government's programme to issue, replace and update ration cards had nothing to do with the NRC, as some people apprehended.
Though the Centre is yet to decide on whether to replicate the NRC exercise in West Bengal, large queues of people are being seen outside the offices of BDOs, borough offices and civic body offices across the state for the last few days to procure documents that could prove that the state has been their place of residence.
"Be 100 percent sure about NRC in Bengal, but Hindus have nothing to fear as we are soon bringing Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament (to give Hindus who escaped religious persecution in other countries Indian citizenship)," Vijayvargiya told a gathering here.
Without naming Banerjee's TMC, which has accused the BJP-ruled Centre and Assam governments of botching up the NRC exercise, as reflected in the exclusion of a large number of Bengali-speaking Hindus, he said some parties and politicians were spreading canards about the same happening in West Bengal.
"As the national general secretary of the BJP, I want to assure all of you that NRC will be implemented but not a single Hindu will have to leave the country. Each and every Hindu will be given citizenship," he asserted.
As long as India's Prime Minister is Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister is Amit Shah, Hindu refugees have nothing to worry about, Vijayvargiya said.
"India is not a charity house that those who are the majority community in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan [Muslims] can just infiltrate, spread terror and take away the livelihood of our citizens," the BJP's Bengal minder said.
Out of the over 19 lakh people omitted from the final NRC in Assam, which was published on August 31, about 12 lakh are Hindus. NRC was one of the provisions of the Assam Accord which was signed in 1985. The accord envisaged identification and deportation of illegal immigrants, especially Bangladeshi settlers.
"The TMC has been opposing NRC to protect Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators who are its vote bank in West Bengal. But after many Hindus were omitted from the NRC list in Assam, it is trying to project us as anti-Hindu and an anti-refugee party," said a senior state BJP leader, who did not wish to be named.
Amit Shah is scheduled visit Kolkata on October 1 to address a seminar on NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.