BJP flags CAA, violent politics in West Bengal; TMC points at inflation, costly loans

Shah had thrown down the gauntlet by asserting that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be implemented in the state as soon as the spread of Covid-19 subsides
Last Updated 09 May 2022, 16:25 IST

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s two-day West Bengal visit, rife with political posturing and to-and-fro accusations, has brought to fore two major concerns: the promise to offer citizenship for immigrants from minorities of neighbouring countries, and political violence.

Shah had thrown down the gauntlet by asserting that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be implemented in the state as soon as the spread of Covid-19 subsides. The mysterious death of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker on Friday helped the senior BJP leader to cast aspersions against the governance of Trinamool Congress (TMC) in terms of prevalent violent politics in the state.

As a response, the TMC, pointed at the nation's economic climate, particularly, the Centre’s inability to control country-wide inflation and the RBI’s surprising hike in repo rate.

During his visit, Shah, while addressing a public meeting in Siliguri, had accused TMC of “spreading rumours”, and promised to implement the CAA. He had asserted that the CAA was, is and will be a “reality”.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed in 2019. The amendment seeks to offer citizenship (subject to certain clauses and rules) to religious minorities—Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians—who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. Rights groups and Muslims across the country had protested the move.

Shah had also called the death of BJP youth wing worker in north Kolkata a “political-form murder”, as also pleaded by the man’s family.

Perhaps in response to the criticism, speaking for his party, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP, reminded the BJP-led central government prices of fuel—cooking gas, petrol and diesel—have risen steeply over the months. (He also stated that) prices of essential medicine, too, have increased. Citing the hike in repo rate by the Reserve Bank of India, Ray also said that it will make loans costly.

Referring to the World Inequality Report, he claimed that the benefits of economic reforms (by the Centre) have only benefited the super-rich.

While violence has marred West Bengal politics for decades, it also highlights the need for a nationwide curb on violent politics, with West Bengal being a case in point.

This flurry of accusations is a reminder that regional issues are being increasingly projected on the national political scene, and conversely points of national concern are being used in local politics. It has also aggravated the already charged political situation of West Bengal where the BJP and the TMC are about to square off for the upcoming elections: the Panchayat elections in 2023, and the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

(Published 09 May 2022, 16:18 IST)

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