"Let Them...": Mamata Banerjee Draws Battlelines Over Population Register

Mamata Banerjee has said if the BJP wishes to implement National Registry of Citizens in Bengal, it can happen "over my dead body".

Mamata Banerjee has already stopped work on the NPR in Bengal.

Kolkata:

Bengal will skip the Centre's meeting on National Population Register, which will be held in Delhi on January 17. Making the announcement in Kolkata today, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Let them (the Centre) pull my government down if they like".

Ms Banerjee, one of the fiercest critics of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the first to stop the process of National Population Register in her state through a formal order and said if the BJP wishes to implement National Registry of Citizens in Bengal, it can happen "over my dead body".

Last week, she underscored her stance, calling herself the "peheradaar" (guard) of citizens' rights.

"As your pehradaar, if anyone comes to snatch your rights, they will have to do it over my dead body.  Not before that. It is not going to be easy. Don't fear fake rumours, conspiracies," she said while speaking at a public meeting in South 24 Parganas district.

The National Population Register was expected to do the groundwork for the National Register of Citizens, the big government initiative that has been rolled out in Assam. The government said procedure is meant to flush out illegal migrants from the country, but critics have said that it is skewed against the Muslims.

In December, the Union cabinet approved a proposal to update the NPR that will be conducted in every state except Assam. But following widespread protests over the NRC and contentious citizens' list, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah said there is no talk of countrywide NRC as of now.

Two days ago, 20 opposition parties met in Delhi and decided that Chief Ministers who have refused to allow National Register of Citizens and the citizenship law in their states must suspend the process of National Population Register.

The NPR has already been put on hold in Kerala. Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states have also declared that they would not implement it.

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