With the West Bengal Assembly elections likely to be held in April-May next year, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya has said that the Union government might start the process of granting citizenship to refugees under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from January 2021. He said the Centre is keen to grant citizenship to several refugees in West Bengal.
Vijaywargiya, the national general secretary of the BJP, criticised the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) for not being sympathetic to the refugees. He said, “We are hopeful that the process of granting citizenship to refugees under the CAA will begin from January next year. The Centre has passed the CAA with the honest intention of granting citizenship to persecuted refugees coming to our country from neighbouring nations.”
Notably, the CAA seeks to grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi refugees who have come to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
TMC reacts to Kailash Vijayvargiya’s claim
TMC, however, reacted strongly against Vijayvargiya’s claim. West Bengal’s Cabinet minister Firhad Hakim said the BJP is trying to fool the people of the state.
“What does the BJP mean by citizenship? If the Matuas are not citizens, how come they voted in assembly and parliamentary polls year after year? The BJP should stop fooling the people of West Bengal,” the minister said.
The Matuas, originally hailing from Bangladesh, started migrating to West Bengal during the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution. The community, with an estimated population of 30 lakh in the state, influences results in at least four Lok Sabha seats and 30-40 assembly constituencies in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
A section of state BJP leadership is apprehensive that the delay and confusion over the implementation of CAA might turn refugee voters, especially the Matua community, against BJP in the 2021 assembly elections. The community had voted in favour of the BJP during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, party sources said.
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