Kolkata: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday reignited the debate over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) during a visit to West Bengal, saying the controversial law will be implemented after the “Covid wave” ends.
“The Trinamool Congress is spreading rumours about CAA — that it won’t be implemented on the ground. I would like to say that we will implement it [CAA] after the Covid wave ends. The CAA was, is and will be a reality,” Amit Shah said during a BJP rally in north Bengal’s Siliguri district.
This is the Union home minister’s first visit to West Bengal since Mamata Banerjee rode to power for a third consecutive term as chief minister in 2021. The BJP emerged as the principal opposition party in the state in last year’s election.
Shah’s statement drew a sharp rebuke from Mamata, who heads the Trinamool Congress and has been a staunch critic of the CAA.
“They are not winning 2024. CAA is their plan. Why are they not bringing it up in Parliament? They cannot play a one-sided game,” she said at a press conference in Kolkata. “We don’t want any citizen to be left out, unity is our strength. After one year, he [Amit Shah] has come here, he should hide his face.”
Debate over CAA
While on the campaign trail in West Bengal last year, the BJP had vowed to implement the CAA if voted to power.
Notified in January 2020, the CAA seeks to ease citizenship for members of six minority communities — Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Christian and Buddhist — from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
The legislation triggered a slew of protests across the country, fuelled by fears that it may be combined with a “National Register of Citizens (NRC)” to disenfranchise Muslims.
However, the central government has maintained that the CAA does not concern Indian citizens and cannot be used to deprive anyone of their citizenship.
Since it was passed in Parliament in December 2019, the MHA has sought six extensions to frame the rules for the CAA, the most recent of them granted in January of this year.
The BJP has faced criticism over the delay in the CAA’s implementation from its own, including Union minister Shantanu Thakur, a prominent leader of the Matua community.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)