'No plans to conduct NRC exercise, CAA to be implemented'

Kolkata: Countering opposition claims that the BJP, if voted to power in Bengal, will update the National Register of Citizens (NRC), thereby "taking away the citizenship rights of people", Kailash Vijayvargiya, the saffron camp's national general secretary, on Sunday reaffirmed that no such plan is on the radar.

He, however, stated that the party intends to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and provide rights to refugees who fled religious persecution in neighbouring countries and moved to India.

"We are only looking forward to implementing the CAA after the elections, as promised in the manifesto. It is an important issue for us, as we strive to grant citizenship to the persecuted refugees. We do not have any plan of conducting the NRC exercise, even if we win the elections," he said. According to state BJP sources, the new citizenship law will benefit more than 1.5 crore people in India, including over 72 lakh in West Bengal.

Accusing the TMC of "running a disinformation campaign against the saffron camp, the 64-year-old leader wondered why the ruling party in the state is opposing the CAA, which could be of benefit to many.

Bengal has a sizeable population of Matuas, who had been migrating to the state since the 1950s, primarily due to religious persecution. The community, with its three million members, influences at least four Lok Sabha seats and 30-40 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South-24 Parganas.

The TMC hopes to politically exploit the confusion over CAA implementation to curry favour with the Matua community, which had voted hands down in favour of the saffron camp in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Training his guns on Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee over her assertion that the "Election Commission was working at the behest of the BJP", Vijayvargiya, who is also the BJP's Bengal minder, said it was an irony that the TMC boss pointed no finger at the poll panel.

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