West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday accused the BJP of trying to “distort” the country’s history to create a rift among the people on religious lines. The country’s history and culture do not promote “sectarianism or bigotry”, she asserted while addressing a public programme here.
“Those trying to distort our secular history should know that the people of Bengal will neither encourage nor allow divisive politics,” the chief minister said.
Banerjee lashed out at the BJP-led government in Assam and the Centre for leaving out names of 40 lakh people from the “complete draft” of the National Register of Citizens. “In Assam they (BJP) are trying to drive out 40 lakh people, including Bengalis, by omitting their names from the NRC draft.
“There had been reports of suicides by people who found their names missing from the draft. I wonder what will their counterpart (BJP Bengal unit) here will have to say about this,” she asked.
However, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh termed Banerjee’s allegations as “baseless”. The BJP is trying to remove “infiltrators” from the country which the TMC has been trying to use as votebank, he alleged. “It is the TMC which has created a rift in Bengal by pursuing appeasement politics. The BJP believes in development for all. In Assam NRC was undertaken to drive out infiltrators whom parties such as the TMC are trying to use as votebank,” Ghosh said.
Drawing parallels between the NRC exercise in Assam and exodus of Bihari migrants from Gujarat, Banerjee said both the BJP-ruled states are trying to divide people on the basis of caste, creed, race and religion.
“While they (BJP) are driving away Bengalis in Assam, they are also ousting Biharis from Gujarat. The Constitution of our country teaches us to treat everybody equally. We cannot differentiate between people on the basis of caste, creed and religion,” she said.
“If Biharis and Bengalis are driven out from other states then Bengal will look after them we will provide them shelter,” the chief minister said. The rape of a 14-month-old girl in Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district on September 28 and the subsequent arrest of a labourer from Bihar for the crime led to sporadic incidents of violence against Hindi-speaking people in the western state.
This led to more than 60,000 Hindi-speaking migrant labourers fleeing the state. The TMC supremo alleged that the BJP had no regard for Gandhian principles.
“Let us not forget Mahatma Gandhi’s principles. Gandhiji had observed fast at Beleghata in Kolkata to stop religious riots. Let us not allow those who want to change the history of the country, the history of Gandhiji, to succeed,” she said.
Turning to the north Bengal border district of Cooch Behar, she spoke of distribution of land right documents in the area and claimed her government was working hard to give beneficiaries their due.
Bangladesh and India had exchanged 162 “adversely held” enclaves on Aug 1, 2015, ending one of the world’s most complex border disputes that had lingered for seven decades since Independence.
In Cooch Behar 111 Indian enclaves, spread across 17,160 acres, became a part of Bangladesh territory and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves, comprising 7,110 acres, joined India.
The enclave residents were allowed to either reside at their present location or move to the other country.
The chief minister chairing an administrative meeting on Monday had asked the district officials to speed up the process of handing over land documents to enclave dwellers.
If necessary, an ordinance would be issued to speed up the process, she had said.
Slamming the Centre for allegedly spending more on advertisements and less on development programmes, Banerjee said the NDA government should take a cue about running projects and schemes from Bengal.
“In Bengal, we have allocated nearly Rs 6,000 crore for various development schemes … Our schemes have been universally acclaimed. You (BJP) should learn from us,” she said.