What Mamata Banerjee Said Of Bangladeshi Immigrants In 2005

Mamata Banerjee was as dramatic when she spoke out in parliament on Bangladeshi immigrants exactly 13 years ago.

Mamata Banerjee has predicted a civil war and bloodbath if the centre stays the course

Highlights

  • 13 years ago, she said, "infiltration into Bengal has become a disaster"
  • Mamata Banerjee had flung papers in Lok Sabha against illegal immigrants
  • Now, she pitches herself as critic of Assam list and immigrants crackdown
New Delhi:

Over the last few days, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has pitched herself as a fierce critic of the Assam citizens' list and the plans for a crackdown against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Ms Banerjee has also predicted a civil war and bloodbath if the centre stays the course.

She was as dramatic when she spoke out in parliament on Bangladeshi immigrants exactly 13 years ago.

But she was making exactly the opposite argument.

Then, Ms Banerjee, an opposition lawmaker, believed that "infiltration into Bengal has become a disaster now" and there were Bangladesh nationals on the voting list.

A motion that she had moved to discuss the "very serious matter" had been turned down by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was elected on a CPM ticket, then the ruling party in Kolkata. She accused him of bias and hurled a sheaf of papers at Mr Chatterjee's deputy Charanjit Singh Atwal, who was the presiding officer, as a stunned House watched. She also resigned her seat.

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The resignation could never be accepted because it was not in the right format. Mr Chatterjee later announced he could not accept it because the letter was not "submitted in a proper form".

 

Analysts say Ms Banerjee has left political compulsions dictate her line on Bangladeshi immigrants. In 2005, the CPM was still the dominant political force in Bengal and would go on to win the assembly election in 2006 as well.

The Left then had the support of the Muslim community including pockets widely perceived to be inhabited by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. "Now, over the course of time, it (Bangladeshi immigrants) has been used as a formidable vote bank by her," said Rajat Sethi, political analyst and adviser to Manipur chief minister.

Union minister Arun Jaitley, who wrote a blog attacking the Congress and Mamata Banerjee for criticising the National Register of Citizens, underlined the change in their stance. "Can India's sovereignty be decided by such fickle minds and fragile hands?" Mr Jaitley wrote.

Journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay says it is obvious that Mamata Banerjee is playing to the gallery because she has a certain vote bank in Bengal - the minorities. "She is essentially trying to address them and take a position in support of them," he said.