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Mamata challenges BJP to win 200 seats; vows not to allow CAA implementation in Bengal

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NewsDrum Desk
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Krishnanagar (WB), Mar 31 (PTI) Mocking the BJP's ambition to secure over 400 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday challenged the saffron party to win 200 constituencies, while reiterating that she will not allow the implementation of CAA in the state.

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Launching her Lok Sabha election campaign from the Krishnanagar constituency, where the party has nominated former MP Mahua Moitra, the chief minister warned people that applying under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA would designate them as foreigners and advised against it.

"The BJP is saying '400 paar', I challenge them to cross the 200-seat mark first. In the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls, they aimed for 200-plus seats but had to stop at 77. Some of these 77 have since joined us," she said.

Dubbing the BJP as "jumla party", the TMC supremo accused the BJP of "peddling lies" regarding the CAA, stating that "Modi's guarantee on CAA is a zero guarantee." "The CAA is a trap to turn legal citizens into foreigners. Once you implement CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will follow. We would allow neither CAA nor NRC in West Bengal. Don't fall for the false assurance of the central government. If you apply, you will be designated as a foreigner for five years," Banerjee said.

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She questioned the inclusion of a member from the census department in the CAA committee, stating, "Why has such a member been included if they have no plan for NRC in the future? The CAA is the head and the NRC is the tail." "Why are BJP leaders not applying for citizenship under the CAA? It is because if they apply, they will have to declare themselves as foreigners and therefore cannot contest the election anymore," she claimed.

Banerjee highlighted an incident in which a youth, worried about CAA, died by suicide in Sonarpur area in South 24 Parganas district.

Reaching out to the Matuas, who are expected to benefit most from the implementation of the CAA, the TMC supremo urged the community to have faith in her, stating she would never allow "anyone to snatch your citizenship." "Matuas, please have faith in me. I will not allow anyone to snatch your citizenship. Do you want that (citizenship to be snatched) or want to live peacefully? Through CAA, they will snatch everything from you and keep you in a detention camp," she said, while addressing her first rally in the election season after her injury earlier this month.

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Matuas, originally from East Pakistan, constitute a vulnerable Hindu community that migrated to India during the partition and the creation of Bangladesh due to religious persecution, and their significant population and cohesive voting patterns have made them a sought-after voting bloc for political parties in West Bengal.

According to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), rules of which were notified on March 13, the government will now start granting Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants -- Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians -- from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who have arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

Union minister Shantanu Thakur dismissed Banerjee's claim, stating, "The CAA is about giving citizenship, not taking it away. The chief minister is misleading people for vested interests." Thakur expressed confidence in "achieving the BJP's 400-seat target, citing the party's development work over the past decade".

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Praising Moitra for her fight against the BJP, Banerjee said, "Despite Mahua Moitra being elected by you (electorate), she was expelled unceremoniously." "We have again re-nominated her from this constituency. Mahua was expelled as she was most vocal against the BJP in Parliament. You have to ensure her victory with a record margin," she said.

Accusing the BJP-led Union government of employing central agencies against her party's leaders, Banerjee stated, "Every day, CBI, ED, and Income Tax teams are being dispatched to the homes of our leaders." Highlighting a recent incident, she said, "An I-T raid was conducted at the house of one of our leaders, Swarup Biswas, for three days." Questioning the motives behind these actions, she asked, "If the BJP is confident of winning 400 seats, why are they sending CBI and ED teams to our leaders' houses? Why are officers from Bengal being sent to other states?" Banerjee also strongly criticised the Centre for the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

She remarked, "They arrested Arvind Kejriwal but they couldn't stop him from working. He is still working from jail." Using a metaphor, she said, "In the BJP washing machine, one Patel (referring to NCP leader Praful Patel) went inside and is now free of corruption. This is the BJP's washing machine." Criticising Modi for his phone calls to BJP candidates in West Bengal, Banerjee remarked, "There is no secrecy. You have been calling them (candidates) and releasing their audio recordings in public. Is this not a violation of privacy... All of us have not forgotten the Pegasus scam." She pointed out specific instances, saying, "One of them (BJP's Basirhat candidate Rekha Patra) avails of benefits of Swasthya Sathi and Lakshmir Bhandar. The ancestors of the other candidate (BJP's Krishnanagar candidate Amrita Roy), whom you people call Raj Mata, had sided with the British against Siraj-ud-Daulah. We do not support Mir Jafars." Banerjee was referring to Amrita Roy, commonly referred to as 'Rajmata' due to her royal lineage, who had asserted that her ancestor, the 18th-century Bengal king Krishnachandra Roy, aligned with the British in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 because of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah's tyranny and the perceived threat to Santan Dharma during his reign. PTI PNT BDC RG ACD

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