The campaign for the General Election 2019 has kick started over the NRC as both ruling party and opposition dug their heel queering their own battle line.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the first to be off the block coming out within hours of the publication of the final draft NRC projecting herself as the guardian of Bengalis and thus by cultivating a pan Indian image for a possible shot at the Prime Ministership.
With Rahul Gandhi not emerging as a consensus candidate, Mamata Banerjee sees herself as a rightful opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
The BJP too sensed the blood and found the NRC has given them all important ammunition for polarized politics and today party president Amit Shah himself picked up the gauntlet, first intervening at the debate in Rajya Sabha and then addressing a news conference at the Party Headquarter.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today tore into the government over the Assam citizens’ list, warning that the move will lead to “civil war and bloodbath” . Her remark drew a sharp reaction from BJP chief Amit Shah, who said he was “stunned” and in a sharp political attack, questioned the opposition’s views on the rights of Indians.
“How will they live in Assam? Where will they get food, shelter, schools?” Banerjee had said earlier today, referring to the 40 lakh people whose names have not appeared on the National Register of Citizens. “They (BJP) are trying to divide the people. The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country,” said Banerjee.
At a press conference this evening, Amit Shah hit back, saying the Bengal Chief Minister was “spreading confusion” with her claims of “civil war”. Accusing her of playing vote bank politics, he said, “I heard the whole speech and I am stunned by it”.
“This step has been taken for protecting the rights of the people of India. Every party should make their stand clear where rights of Indians are important or not,” Mr Shah said, retaliating to the opposition jabs on human rights.
Mamata Banerjee, who was in Delhi today, was unfazed.
“Who are they to decide who is Indian? Only the BJP people are Indian and all non-BJP people are non-Indian. The name of Indian politics is tolerance. The name of Indian politics is democracy,” she declared later.
The Bengal BJP — whose chief remarked yesterday that the same exercise for drawing up a citizen’s list will be undertaken in Bengal once the BJP comes to power in the state — was not spared either.
“Are they guardians of West Bengal? Who are they to decide on West Bengal? The West Bengal government is there… There should be some limitations,” the Chief Minister said in a no-holds barred attack as her party kept up the pressure in parliament, stalling the functioning of Rajya Sabha.