Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said the state government had plans to adopt a resolution in the Assembly in the next few days against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and appealed to the North Eastern states not to conduct the National Population Register (NPR), which, according to her, was nothing but a prelude to National Register of Citizens (NRC). Kerala and Punjab have already passed resolutions against the CAA.
Talking to the media on her way to north Bengal Banerjee described the NPR exercise as “a dangerous game”, since the form, which seeks birth details and residential proof of parents, was intended to be “a precursor of NRC implementation”. “I will appeal to all chief ministers, governments, including those in BJPruled northeast states ~ Tripura, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal ~ and the opposition party-ruled states to read the law properly and consider the clauses in the NPR form before arriving at a decision. I request them not to participate in this exercise because the condition is very bad,” she said.
Banerjee further said she had come to know from the media that sections in the NPR form which seek birth details of parents were not mandatory. “If the fields are not mandatory, why are they kept in the form at all? Efforts should be made to remove those questions. If they continue to exist on paper (form), those that do not enter birth details of their parents may be automatically excluded. There is an apprehension in this regard” she said. Earlier this month, the Trinamul Congress had prevented the passage of an anti-CAA resolution in the Assembly which the Congress and the CPI(M) proposed to move.
The CM then contended the House had already adopted a resolution against a pan-India NRC in September last year denouncing the idea of citizenship on the basis of religion. Later in the day Banerjee said, “Initially, I had thought that NPR was only a regular exercise for census update. But after looking at the columns, which sought date of birth and address of parents, I realised that I will not be able to provide them that information. I do not have them,” she said. “They (Centre) have misguided you (participating CMs) by telling that the column to provide your parents’ details is not mandatory. If it was so, why don’t you pass a resolution to withdraw those fields from the NPR form,” she said.
In an obviously reference to the attacks on university campuses in several parts of the nation, she said , “What is happening in the country at this juncture in not right. Students are our future.” Describing herself as the custodian of common people, she iterated that NPR and NRC would not be implemented in West Bengal. “Nobody will be able to snatch away our rights. This state is ours. Do not think we are there only when elections are around. I am the custodian of common people. I am not going to listen to them (Centre) unless the necessary changes are made in the NPR form,” she added.
Reacting to s Banerjee’s remarks , Abdul Mannan, Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly said, “Finally, good sense seems to have dawned on the chief minister. We welcome the chief minister’s change of mind and it’s better late than never. Finally, she has come to realise the fact that the Opposition’s demand on the resolution is justified. This augurs well for the fight against the unconstitutional CAA.”