PM’s CAA speeches in WB give Mamata an advantage

PM Modi's CAA speeches at Belur Math in West Bengal give advantage to Mamata Banerjee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with monks at Belur Math in Howrah district. Modi on Sunday paid tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to get the public opinion in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in West Bengal during his two-day visit to Kolkata seems to have backfired. His strategy to corner the detractors of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, from apolitical platforms, have provided fresh ammunition to Opposition parties.

His speech at the Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramkrishna Mission (RKM), accusing opposition parties of spreading confusion about CAA, has not gone down well with a large section of educated Bengalis and alumni of the Mission. RKM has always maintained a strictly apolitical stand and stayed away from controversies.

Addressing a gathering largely of RKM monks and students Modi said that “players of politics” are refusing to understand that CAA is not for taking away anyone’s citizenship but for granting citizenship. He also said that it was because of the debate over CAA Pakistan has to answer the world about the persecution of minorities there for the last 70 years.

The Prime Minister’s political speech put the RKM authorities in a spot. RKM secretary Swami Subirananda Maharaj said: “ we lead a spiritual life and don’t comment on political matters.”

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) latched on to the issue to corner the Prime Minister. TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee described the Prime Minister’s speech on CAA at RKM as “offensive.” It is unlikely that TMC will not use the issue to attack Modi in its anti-CAA agitation. This will make life difficult for BJP in the municipal elections which will be held across the state later this year.

At another government program organised by the Kolkata Port Trust the Prime Minister again donned the hat of a BJP leader and accused the TMC government of not implementing Central government schemes for the sake of “cut money” and “syndicates.”

His arch rival in the state TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee shrewdly maintained balance between her role as a Chief Minister and one of the most vocal critics of the CAA. She blunted BJP’s charge of prioritizing her political interests over her duties as Chief Minister by meeting the Prime Minister at Raj Bhavan and urging him to withdraw CAA. This baffled the state BJP who were left with only one allegation that Banerjee was trying to divide the anti- TMC votes by meeting the Prime Minister.

After describing the meeting with the Prime Minister as her “constitutional duty” she rushed to the protest demonstration held by TMC’s student wing against CAA and raised her pitch against the Act.

The Prime Minister in his first visit to Bengal after the passage of CAB in Parliament has given the advantage to his harshest critic Mamata Banerjee.

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