In an unprecedented show of unity, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on Friday passed a resolution opposing the National Register of Citizens ( NRC) in Assam. The resolution also categorically ruled out the possibility of any such exercise in the State.
The development comes within a week of release of the final list of NRC, in which over 19 lakh people have been left out.
The resolution tabled under Rule 185 of the Rules of Procedures of Conduct of Business of the House was supported by members of the Trinamool Congress from the Treasury beaches and legislators of the Left parties and the Congress from the Opposition benches. Only a handful of BJP members opposed the resolution, which was passed after a three-hour debate.
“We do not accept the NRC. What has happened in Assam can never happen in Bengal,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said during the debate. She thanked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for opposing a NRC-like exercise in his State.
Ms. Banerjee said the NRC was carried out on the basis of the Assam Accord of 1985 and there was no such agreement in the case of Bengal. “They are making a grand jail where they can keep the detainees from the list.” Issues like this were propped up to divert people’s attention from the economic distress faced by the country, she alleged.
Pointing out that Gorkhas had voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in Darejeeling hills, she said that one lakh Gorkha people have been excluded from the NRC.
During the debate, members, supporting the resolution that had called the exercise “inhuman and autocratic”, made repeated references to the partition of Bengal and the influx of refugees from Bangladesh. They said the exercise was “anti-Bengali” and aimed at reaping political dividends for the BJP. “When refugees from Bangladesh came to Bengal, there were no protests here. We, the people of Bengal, have accepted refugees irrespective of their religion,” TMC MLA and Minister Sovandeb Chatterjee said.
Leader of the Left Legislature Party Sujan Chakraborty said the NRC was not against Muslims or those who had come from the other side of Bengal but against the poor people who had no access to documents.
All India Forward Bloc MLA Ali Imran Ramz described the resolution as historic. He said it had proved that “Bengal is secular and will remain secular”.
Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan said the RSS had infiltrated all political parties in the country when they were guided by blind anti-Congress opposition. None of the political parties opposing the Congress realised that the weakening of the Congress would bring such a doom.
Leader of the BJP legislature party Manoj Tigga, who spoke against the motion, raised issues like the Chief Minister’s protest in Kolkata on issues such as ‘no voter card no vote’ in July 21, 1993, in which 13 youth Congress people were killed. “Will the souls of those killed rest in peace after hearing the debate in the Assembly,” he said.
Mr. Tigga also raised the issue of Ms. Banerjee, as an MP, raising the issue of illegal infiltration from Bangladesh on August 4, 2005 in Parliament and storming out the house when no debate was allowed on it.
Mr. Tigga, along with his colleague Swadhin Sarkar, who participated in the debate, said the NRC needed to be implemented in Bengal.