The BJP and Mamata Banerjee's TMC are in for an intense battle and its a test for the two parties as By-polls in Bengal began with the crucial issue of NRC as Amit Shah wants to implement the exercise pan India and Mamata Banerjee opposing it vehemently.
Mamata Banerjee and the BJP have locked horns over various issues and with the upcoming assembly election knocking the doors in Bengal both the parties are trying to fight it out in Bengal. Recently, Home Minister Amit Shah announced that he intends to make National Register of Citizen.(NRC) pan India. The concept which was till now only restricted to Assam will be implemented all over India.
However, Mamata Banerjee has made it clear that her government will not allow the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to be implemented in West Bengal. In a statement, she challenged the saffron party to clarify as to why the names of 14 lakh Hindus and Bengalis were excluded out of the final NRC in Assam which was published on August 31. Banerjee has always tried to accuse the BJP of dividing people on the basis of religion and she reiterated that she won’t allow any conspiracy to divide Bengal. She mentioned that Stating that there are groups of people who are trying to create cracks between the people residing in Darjeeling hills. She said that there are people living in North Bengal who belong to various communities like Sikh, Hindu, Bengali, Muslims and they had never had a problem coexisting so she will make sure that a rift is not created between them by the BJP.
Shah has clarified that no individual needs to get worried on the lines of religion because the process of NRC will be carried out across the country and it will be ensured that everyone falls under it irrespective of their religion or caste. He also mentioned that there is no provision in the NRC suggests the exclusion of people belonging to other religion. There is a sense of panic after the proposed implementation of NRC in Bengal claims Banerjee. She also has charged the BJP for failing to provide security to non-Kashmiris in the valley. She was referring to the Kulgam killings where five labourers from Bengal were killed in October.
The NRC war seems to be heating up between the BJP and the Trinamool and recently it has been observed that people are flocking in large numbers at Government offices across the state to collect documents pertaining to proof of citizenship. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation officials said that there has been a sudden increase in the number of people visiting the centre for certificates and mostly they are from the minority community.
The BJP has over and over stated that people of Bengal need not be afraid of the NRC as it will not affect normal citizens except for illegal immigrants and the Rohingyas. They have also said that it is just a gimmick of Banerjee to spread unnecessary rumours and creating panic amongst people. The real test of Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress and its opposition BJP has begun as the by-polls in the three assembly constituencies, Kharagpur Sadar, Karimpur and Kaliaganj, in the state started on Monday. This is said to be the precursor to the 2020 civic polls and also the 2021 state elections. With the ever-evolving strategies of the CM of Bengal and her constant attacks on the BJP over several issues the latest being NRC, it will be interesting to see after the results of the by-polls are out if Didi has managed to regain her lost grounds in Bengal. Political analyst suggests that the results of this poll will be based on local factors. However, but the issues of NRC and tabling of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament will play a significant role in the two seats of Karimpur and Kaliaganjas they both fall under the border districts of Nadia and North Dinajpur. The test will also be for TMC’s strategist Prashant Kisor who had suggested few changes like say no to cut money, Didi Ke Bolo to establish a connection between the party and the people of Bengal. Although the response of these had backfired and people somehow have not been able to have faith in the Bengal Government.
The BJP seems to have maintained the momentum it gained in the 2019 general elections and even after all the drama related to Kashmir, Ayodhya and Maharashtra it seems to have managed to sustain its stronghold all across India. In Bengal, it will be very interesting to watch the saffron party and TMC battling it out with the key factors being NRC and religious polarization. And also could a renewed Congress-Left Front alliance change the game of Bengal? The first test of popularity in the state of Bengal will be watched carefully and will also prove if BJP’s stupendous performance and public support in Bengal in the 2019 polls was a long term thing or just a temporary hype.