New Delhi: The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which will be in the Rajya Sabha today, has amended a minute thing that can bring about bigger mileage for the BJP in West Bengal, it is being speculated.
Previously, refugees had to wait for 11 years before being eligible for Indian citizenship after residing in India. In the proposed amendments of 2016, the waiting period was brought down to six years. But now it’s five years from the cut-off date of December 31, 2014. This means that once passed, refugees won’t even have to wait for a year to apply for citizenship in India as the time period of five years will end on December 21, 2019.
It is being speculated that the move has been taken keeping an eye of West Bengal which will be going to the Assembly polls in 2021.
The BJP unit of West Bengal took the credit of reducing the waiting period and said that this would certainly hurt CM Mamata Banerjee’s juggernaut as she has been using refugee votes but never granted them citizenship.
“We will not allow anyone to depot any person from the country. There will be no NRC and no division. There can’t be a divide and rule policy; nothing is bigger than the country. People can have big political slogans but the country should not suffer due to it. It’s a divisive bill and shall be opposed at any cost,” Mamata Banerjee has said.
The Bill will, however, impress the Matuas in West Bengal. This is a sect of Vaishnavite Hinduism originated in Bangladesh and then migrated to West Bengal. For years, this sect has been demanding citizenship. They have been very powerful in turning the tables in vote bank. According to experts, it is the Matua votes that helped saffron wave in 2019 Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal. The BJP won 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal. At least 10 were driven by Matua votes.