Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has triggerd a huge “outsider versus insider” debate in the state ahead of the assembly election, today offered a clarification, saying there is no discrimination in the state between Bengalis and non-Bengalis while reiterating her stand on the controversial law on the National Register of Citizens. But when it comes to ruling Bengal, the matter is different, she indicated to her intended target — the BJP, which has set its heart on adding the state to its bag in the state polls due in April.
“See what is happening in Assam and Tripura. In the name of NRC they scared everyone. There is an NPR (National Population Register). Every state is doing it, but we haven’t done it. We won’t let them do it,” she said..
There is no difference between Bengalis and non-Bengalis, the Chief Minister said. “We take everyone along whether its Biharis or UP or Rajasthan or Terai or Dooars. We take everyone along. But we must remember one thing. Gujarat will never reign over Bengal. People who live in Bengal will reign over Bengal,” the Chief Minister said at a rally in north Bengal’s Alipurduar.
The Chief Minister’s words about the neighbouring states comes as the BJP continues its efforts to prove that it is no stranger to Bengali culture. On Monday, Union Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman started her budget speech with a quote from Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, considered the cultural core of Bengal.
Over the last months, the BJP has also extensively focused on the cultural icons of the state — including Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, whose birth anniversary on January 23 was marked as “Parakram Diwas”, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being in Kolkata for the occasion.
But the BJP leaders have also made several faux pas when it comes to these icons like getting Tagore’s birthplace wrong. The TMC has said Jai Shri Ram slogans by BJP supporters at an event to mark Netaji’s birthday was an insult to Netaji and his legacy.