Buoyed by the three victories in the recently- concluded by-elections in the state, the Trinamul Congress has launched an extensive campaign against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with renewed vigour. Fear among the people regarding NRC is believed to have played a crucial role in the BJP’s defeat and the TMC’s victories in the by-polls. State tourism minister Gautam Deb, who represents the Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency in Siliguri, held a meeting at Ghogomali under Ward 37 here today.

Mr Deb met local citizens and sought to allay fears, and said that the state government will block any attempt to implement the exercise in the state. Trinamul Congress leaders aid the party had hit the streets some months ago across the state to protest the NRC and the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, but fresh campaigns had been launched following the 3-0 rout in the by-elections. They also said the by-election results encouraged the party activists, whose morale had hit a low after the BJP bagged 18 LS seats in the last parliamentary polls.

Both Kaliyaganj (in north Bengal) and Karimpur (in south Bengal), where the TMC won the by-polls, are located near the Bangladesh border. “The victory in Kaliyaganj is significant because the Trinamul had faced a rout in north Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections, and there was a series of defections of party leaders from the beleaguered party. The BJP has been posing a serious threat to the party in the 2021 Assembly elections. We would have to continue such performance in the next elections. Their over-confidence, repeated assertions and the party’s vow that an Assam-like NRC will be carried out in Bengal along with the rest of the country has backfired.

They have been paid with their own coins for making the issue a poll plank. People are in panic since the exclusion of 19 lakh people from Assam’s final list of the NRC published on 31 August, despite the assurance from chief minister Mamata Banerjee that she would not let the NRC happen in the state. Some persons have committed suicide for fear of NRC,” said a senior party leader, requesting anonymity. “But there is no room for self complacency. We were already on the streets, but the recent results have prompted the state party leadership to ask the activists and leaders to fan out extensively and stress on door-do-door campaigns,” the leader said.

Mr Deb said the results were a “morale booster.” “The 3-0 clean sweep has definitely encouraged us and given us extra oxygen to declare a war against the NRC. We had never won in Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliyaganj. We were able to secure victory with a margin of more than 20,000 votes (20,853) in Kharagpur Sadar, and put up an impressive show in Kaliyaganj, while retaining the Karimpur seat. Our vote percentage has increased. People have shown their faith in the Trinmaul Congress. The mandate is very clear, and people voted against the NRC and the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

People gave a befitting reply to the arrogance of the BJP, the anti-people economic policies of the Centre,” Minister Deb said. “The movement against the NRC and the proposed bill is a continuous process. If question of existence arises, people from cross section of society, irrespective of party colour, cast, creed and religion we will fight together against the divisive attempt. The children will be taught about the NRC and the proposed bill. We will carry out a door-to-door campaign and take to the streets more vigorously,” he said. Mr Deb, who is also the chairman of the party’s core committee in north Bengal, said they had decided to reach out to the people in the region.