Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is an elephant in Mamata Banerjee’s room and she doesn’t know how to put that out. Until CAA was passed and signed by the President of India, West Bengal refugees were subject to unremitting political arm-twisting by ruling parties. This is because no legal distinction between ‘Refugees & Infiltrators’ existed till CAA came into being. Hence, CAA is reasonably expected to draw Refugees’ political loyalty to BJP, causing an ugly dent in Trinamool Congress (TMC) ’s vote bank. To defend this strong positive move by its prime political opponent, TMC is resorting to age-old tactics— “If you can’t convince your target audience, confuse them”. TMC is trying to confuse Matua community and defect their confidence in BJP claiming the Saffron Party is blackmailing them for votes and would never implement CAA. TMC MP Mohua Moitra ranted in her recent Parliamentary speech saying had Government of India wanted to implement CAA, one year was enough time to frame rules thereof.
TMC Reservation are Political
Thinking neutrally, these arguments by TMC appear more political than factual. CAA already exists as an Indian Law and has been signed by the President of India. This fact auto-implies Matua’s and other refugees’ (who arrived in India by December 31, 2014). Certificate-issuance thereof is taking longer time than expected perhaps due to unavoidable circumstances. COVID-19 Pandemic was unforeseen that created extraordinary political challenges for GOI. While it’s Government of India’s prerogative and right to furnish separate rules for implementing CAA, eligible Refugees may apply for citizenship (by Naturalisation) under existing rules too. By virtue of September 2015 Amendments of Passport Act, Foreigners Act and by virtue of CAA, 2019, persecuted refugees from Bangladesh who entered India within December 31, 2014, won’t be refused citizenship even if they apply under existing rules. However, Mamata Banerjee and TMC’s indefatigable whining about why CAA-rules have not yet been framed seems to be an expressions of political restlessness and the real reason thereof appears politically vicious. Let us guess.
TMC is trying to confuse Matua community and shake their confidence in BJP claiming the Saffron Party is blackmailing them for votes and would never implement CAA. TMC MP Mohua Moitra ranted in her recent Parliamentary speech saying had Government of India wanted to implement CAA, one year was enough time to frame rules thereof
Mamata’s Muslim Vote Bank
It won’t be an exaggeration to asseverate that the contentious CAA was drafted as if keeping West Bengal’s typical problems in mind and providing customised solution thereof. West Bengal is an infiltration-infested State. Muslim infiltrators from adjacent Bangladesh contribute electoral benefits to Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and other West Bengal parties. This segment of voters for whom Banerjee wields the national slogan of Bangladesh’ ‘Jai Bangla’ as TMC-slogan in West Bengal. The graduating rise in pro-Bangladesh sentiments (BANGLADESHISM) in West Bengal politics appears a contrived effort of Mamata Banerjee to appease infiltrator-supplying lobby.
CAA has legally alienated these illegal infiltrators in West Bengal by drawing a distinct demarcation line between them and the State’s lawful refugees. The Law has secured Non-Muslim (predominantly Hindu) refugees of West Bengal by owning them as Indian Citizens while leaving Muslims’ Citizenship credentials questionable. From now on, Muslim may be reported against for suspicious activities, if any. In other words, CAA has caused a large section of Muslim inhabitants of West Bengal’ feel insecure’ which Muslim leaders of TMC are not able to accept. Moreover, whacking criminal Raj of Mamata Banerjee is run predominantly by Muslims who cannot digest such obvious implications of CAA. Do they have the plot to vent out their grievances?
From antecedents of anti-CAA protest in 2019-20 and from modus operandi of TMC as a political party at that time, it may not be incorrect to estimate that framing of CAA rules would provide an opportunity for TMC to resume anti-CAA Protest—Chapter 2. TMC’s repeated calls for GOI-notification of CAA rules seem to contain underlying intentions; Intention to machinations of another protest? As Shaheen Bagh protest didn’t yield desired output for anti-CAA protesters, CAA implementation program might facilitate its resumption afresh. Is TMC looking for a scope to rejuvenate and diversify anti-CAA protest mechanism once CAA rules are notified?
People from the Matua community at the BJP’s ‘Abhinandan’ rally in Kolkata in 2019 (file photo)
If violence and communal riot break out on account of CAA implementation before forthcoming Assembly Poll in West Bengal and if Government of West Bengal (GOWB) under Mamata Banerjee fails to tackle that, (GOWB’s antecedents suggest that such failure may be due to deliberate administrative inaction) Centre would have to take reprimanding measures against the present West Bengal Government which would be a boon in disguise for TMC.
Is TMC looking for a riot in pre-poll West Bengal? Kill two birds with one stone. A communal riot would be an opportunity for aggrieved Muslim lobby of TMC to vent out their anger against CAA. Simultaneously, Mamata Banerjee and her mercenaries would try to fit in the Saffron Party to their built-in narrativ’. Bonafide designer of this narrative was not Mamata Banerjee herself but her political predecessor, Jyoti Basu. Moreover, if a riot starts on the CAA implementation, would she hesitate to restart her gibberish rant “CAA CAA Chhi Chhi” to call CAA a law to promote communal enmity?
There appears one more probable reason why TMC is looking for CAA rules notified as soon as possible. As per India’s Citizenship Act’s existing rules, application for citizenship by naturalisation requires to be deposited at District Magistrate (DM) ’s Office. If CAA rules, 2019 too need an application to DM, Mamata Banerjee might recommend DMs to reject such applications and create obstacles for Refugees to complete formal procedures of applications. Such apprehensions won’t appear baseless considering how she started hindrance against two West Bengal Cadre IPSs’ joining in Central Deputation after MHA orders them to do so in December. The two policemen still couldn’t comply with MHA’s order as Banerjee refused to release them from State duty.
Matua community and other Refugees of West Bengal are aware of ground realities of the State & would perhaps co-operate with Government of India to enable MHA to take the right decision at the right moment.
(The writer is a Kolkata-based columnist)