Siliguri: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reassured the people of Bengal that those having their names on the voters’ list are citizens.
“Those having their names on the voters’ list are citizens. We have inherited this legacy from our freedom movement and the heroes of Renaissance, namely Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Gandhiji and Birsa Munda. The question of conducting an NRC in West Bengal does not arise,” Banerjee said at a Bijoya Sammilani organised at the Siliguri Police Lines on Monday.
The chief minister, while explaining her government’s stance, said: “I cannot say that only Banerjees will stay in Bengal. That is not possible. We won’t allow this in Bengal. Not a single individual will have to leave this state. We will act as watchdogs.”
Banerjee also took a jibe at the provisions of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that mandates a migrant from neighbouring countries to wait for at least six years before he becomes a citizen under the naturalisation clause.
“We all are citizens of India. Efforts are on to divide us and pit one against the other. Some people are reaching out to Rajbanshis and telling them that they are the ones to stay. The Bengalis have to move out. They are taking a similar tactic to divide Bengali-speaking people and the non-Bengali people. They are also trying to drive a wedge between the upper castes and namasudras, tribals and between Hindi-speaking and Urdu-speaking people. Why is this division when we are all human beings?” the CM said.
Representatives of all faiths and language were invited to the programme. Banerjee seized the opportunity to remind Rajbanshis about the plight of Rajbanshis in Assam. “As many as 12 lakh Bengali-speaking people couldn’t make it to the final NRC list. Of them, most are Rajbanshis,” she said.
The ruling Trinamool substantiates its argument by citing the Assam chief minister’s submission to the Supreme Court where he has stated that people having their names in the 2014 Lok Sabha voters list are citizens.
The CM reminded the gathering that her government patronises festivals of all kinds. “Kali Puja is on Sunday and Chhath is on November 2. Since Chhath Puja falls on a Saturday, the government has declared a holiday on November 4. We have also announced a holiday on Id. We also support the Navaratri festival in the Hills, the Bhadu festival in Jhargram. The Uttarbanga Utsav is on the anvil,” the CM said, strumming the strings of unity in diversity.
Banerjee also charted out the development schemes in north Bengal during her tenure — giving land for expansion of Bagdogra airport, setting up airstrips in Cooch Behar, Balurghat and Malda, setting up of the Jalpaiguri Circuit Bench and creation of two new districts Alipurduar and Kalimpong.