Addressing the Eid congregation at the Red Road in Calcutta on Saturday, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her pledge to not allow the implementation of NRC in the state.
“Today the Constitution is being changed and the country’s history is being altered. They are doing whatever pleases them. Now they have brought back NRC. I have said I will not implement it in Bengal. I don’t know what will happen in other states, but here I won’t allow it to be implemented,” Banerjee said while taking on the BJP, albeit without naming the party.
Earlier this week the chief minister had lambasted the Centre after interpreting one of its communications for the implementation of a pilot project to identify and eliminate illegal Aadhar cards in “specific minority-dominated pockets of the state” as an effort to “implement NRC and CAA in a roundabout way”. Speaking from her office at the state secretariat Nabanna, Banerjee had declared that she wouldn’t carry out the order.
Banerjee used the occasion for Eid prayers to launch her campaign for the 2024 general elections. “Make me a promise on this day of April. We will face an election in one year’s time. We will decide who will come to power and who won’t. Decide for yourself who you want. Ask your relatives who work outside the state to come home to vote and decide what your next government should look like because if we fail to protect democracy, then nothing would remain,” she told the congregation which had gathered for the Eid-Ul-Fitr namaz amid applause and appreciation.
“We want peace in Bengal. We don't want riots. We don't want divisions in the country. Some people are trying to divide the country and practice the politics of hate ... I am ready to give my life but will not allow any division of the country,” Banerjee said.
Besides the BJP, Banerjee also unleashed a veiled attack against the All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) which took on the TMC in certain pockets of the state in the 2021 state polls, the party’s maiden venture in Bengal politics.
“Some people are out to divide Muslim votes after taking money from the BJP. I told them you do not have the courage to divide Muslim votes to aid the BJP,” Banerjee said.
Back in 2021, Banerjee designated the AIMIM’s venture as a “ploy to divide Muslim votes in Bengal” and called the party chief Asaduddin Owaisi a “friend of the BJP from Hyderabad”.
“We have to fight the traitors. We have to fight money-power and we have to fight (central) agencies. We are ready to fight. But we are not ready to bow our heads, she declared and added: “Promise me that you will fight with honesty and not cow down before the forces that are trying to divide you. We will fight and we will win.”
Flanked by her nephew Abhishek on the stage, Banerjee took repeated refuge to Urdu verses to convince the gathering that “the chair in Centre would not remain with the BJP if the Opposition came together”.