- Mamata Banerjee Rally On Citizenship Act "Unconstitutional": Governor
- Earlier, Mamata Banerjee had urged people to join her rally
- Governor said he was "extremely anguished" over the move
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a massive protest march against the citizenship law in the heart of Kolkata on Monday and dared the centre to dismiss her government, declaring that the law could be enforced in her state "only over her dead body". Hundreds of her party leaders and supporters walked with her carrying posters and flags against the controversial law in the first of several protests over the next three days.
"As long as I am alive, I will never implement the citizenship law or NRC in the state. You can very well dismiss my government or put me behind bars but I will never implement this black law. We will continue to protest democratically till this law is scrapped. If they want to implement it in Bengal they will have to do it over my dead body," Mamata Banerjee said.
"They thought Mamata is alone. But now so many are with us. If your cause is right, people will come. Remember ekla chalo re," said the Chief Minister, 64, on a stage put up near Jorasanko, home to Rabindranath Tagore's ancestral home in Kolkata.
This was not a fight based on religion, she said, but a fight for what is right.
Ms Banerjee's march from a statue of BR Ambedkar on Red Road to Jorasanko was dubbed unconstitutional by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, whose ties with the Chief Minister over the past few months have been tense and acrimonious.
"I am extremely anguished that CM (chief minister) and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA, the law of the land. This is unconstitutional. I call upon CM to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation," the Governor tweeted.
.@MamataOfficial. I am extremely anguished that CM and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA, law of the land. This is unconstitutional. I call upon CM to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation.— Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) December 16, 2019
Ms Banerjee plans similar marches till Wednesday to underline her fierce opposition to the citizenship law, which, she says, she will not allow in Bengal. It has opened yet another conflict point between the Chief Minister and the BJP in the one-upmanship ahead of the Bengal polls due in 2021. The new law will make it easier for non-Muslims who escaped persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and entered India before 2015 to become Indian citizens.
Launching the protest, the Chief Minister administered a pledge to participants, calling for peace and harmony of all religions and emphasizing that nobody would have to leave Bengal.
Protests against the citizenship law turned violent on Sunday in Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Several students and policemen were injured in clashes and 100 students were detained in a crackdown on campus that has been denounced by Jamia students and teachers. Protests have spread to other campuses who have expressed solidarity with Jamia.