Life in Gurgaon

PM Narendra Modi to address concerns over NRC, Citizenship bill, infiltration in Bengal rally

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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands on the dais of the 6.3 acre ground at Thakurnagar in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district on Saturday, uppermost in his mind will be the vexed issues of citizenship and the Matuas who form a three-million-plus strong community who mostly migrated from neighbouring Bangladesh since the 1950s.

It will be Modi’s first public meeting for the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign in Bengal, a state where his party is targeting at least 22-23 seats out of the total 42.

It’s a Herculean task, considering that the highest number the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ever had is two and the fact that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has been winning bypolls at all levels – Parliament, Assembly and civic bodies – with more than 50% votes.

BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh said, to clear confusion among Hindu refugees from Bangladesh living in West Bengal, the Prime Minister will address their worries over National Registrar of Citizenship (NRC, Assam) and Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, from his rally.


Matua, Citizenship and Infiltration

“Since the publication of NRC’s second draft list in Assam, Trinamool Congress (TMC) is concertedly spreading misinformation among Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. Modi-ji will explain how our government is going to kill two birds at the same go by implementing NRC and amending the citizenship law,” Ghosh said.

Santanu Thakur, who heads one faction of the dalit Matua community’s supreme body All India Matua Mahasangha and is the host of Modi’s event at Thakurnagar, echoed Ghosh.

“On January 4, we sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s office, requesting for a date for clearing confusion among Hindu refugees spread by groups with political interests,” said Thakur, who shares close relations with BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy.

On January 22, BJP national president Amit Shah told a gathering in Bengal’s Malda district that the issue of giving citizenship to refugees and stripping infiltrators of citizenship will be the key poll issue in the state. BJP has always maintained that Muslims who migrated from Bangladesh and infiltrators and Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians who migrated from India’s eastern neighbour are refugees, arguing that the members of the later group came in the face of religious persecution.

NRC in Assam became a raging controversy in Bengal after nearly 4 million people, predominantly Hindu Bengalis, found their names missing in NRC’s final draft released in July last year.

In November last year, chief minister Mamata Banerjee addressed a rally at Thakurnagar. It was organised by the other faction of Matua Mahasangha led by local TMC MP Mamata Thakur, who happens to be Santanu Thakur’s aunt.