Kolkata: Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, on Saturday dared Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop implementation of the CAA in the state.
During a meeting in North 24 Parganas district's Thakurnagar, an area dominated by the Matuas whose roots are in Bangladesh, Adhikari said the "CAA Act does not suggest that the citizenship of anyone will be taken away if one is a bonafide resident with legal documents".
"We have talked about the CAA several times. The Citizenship Amendment Act will be rolled out in the state. If you have guts, stop it from being enforced," the Nandigram MLA said in an apparent reference to the chief minister.
The CAA facilitates the grant of citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
But as the rules under the Act have not been framed by the government yet, no one so far could be granted citizenship under it.
"Matua community members will also be given citizenship," Adhikari said at the public meeting.
The Narendra Modi government at the Centre had "fulfilled one of its promises by abrogating Article 370 in Kashmir after winning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections", Adhikari claimed.
"Similarly, the BJP will fulfil its promise about CAA implementation....the central government does not believe in taking away rights of anyone. Our PM does not believe in divisive politics," the BJP leader said. A politically significant community, the Matuas are split into the BJP and TMC camps.
Members of the Matua community, who make for a large chunk of the state’s Scheduled Caste population, had been migrating to West Bengal since the 1950s, primarily due to religious persecution in erstwhile East Pakistan and then Bangladesh.
With an estimated 30 lakh Matuas in the state, the community has influence in at least five Lok Sabha seats and nearly 50 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
Union Minister and BJP MP from Bongaon Shantanu Thakur said the CAA will be "a reality in West Bengal and the Narendra Modi government is committed to realising the goal".
TMC leader and senior West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim said the BJP is playing with the CAA before the 2023 panchayat polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections with "an eye on vote bank politics".
"The BJP seeks to play the same CAA card when there is an election. But we will never allow that to happen," Hakim said.