West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said her party would oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and demanded that the BJP-led government at the Centre withdraw the contentious piece of legislation. She was reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the TMC's support for the passage of the bill, at a rally in Thakunagar in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.
"The Centre will have to withdraw the Citizenship Bill. There is no question of supporting it. We will oppose it. We will not let him (Modi) succeed," Banerjee said. In his speech at the event organised by the Matua community, Modi praised the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and sought the Trinamool Congress' support for it.
The Bill, he said, would bring "justice and respectability" to those who faced religious persecution.
"India got Independence after splitting it into pieces. People thought they can make a living in the country of their choice, but there they faced atrocities and torture because of communal malice...Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis.
"It was because of this that we brought the Citizenship Bill. These people have no place to go other than India. Should they not be given justice and respectability? I ask the TMC to support the Bill and facilitate its passage in Parliament," Modi said.
The Matuas originally hail from erstwhile East Pakistan and began migrating to West Bengal at the beginning of the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution. Many of them are claimed to have still not got Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Trinamool Congress had staged a walk out from the Lok Sabha last month demanding that the Bill be sent to a parliamentary panel.