BJP has also changed its stance on the call to implement NRC in West Bengal as well
“We will drive out Bangladeshi Muslims, not Bengalis” — thus reads a hoarding put up by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) as part of its efforts to dispel allegations that it is anti-Bengali, the Indian Express reports. The move comes ahead of BJP President Amit Shah’s rally in Kolkata, the capital of India's West Bengal state.
BJP acted after the Trinamool Congress (TMC) branded it as an “Anti-Bengali” party following the publication of the final draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeast Indian state of Assam, which excluded around four million people from the list.
“We are not against Bengalis in general but against illegal infiltration. We will give shelter to Hindu refugees who had to flee neighbouring countries due to religious persecution. But we cannot give shelter to Muslim infiltrators who have been living here illegally. But a wrong message has been sent to the people of Bengal following NRC implementation that we will drive out Bengalis. We want to make it clear that we will only drive out Bangladeshi Muslims from here,” said a senior BJP leader.
Sources said the party has also changed its stance on the call to implement NRC in West Bengal as well. “People in Bengal are sentimental about their identity. We cannot adopt a hard-line approach in Bengal if we must gain ground here. We need to win the trust of people by empathizing with their sentiments. Therefore, it is desired that we must soften our stand on NRC when it comes to Bengal,” a party leader said.
Shah is to address a rally in Kolkata on August 10, during which he may speak on NRC. Meanwhile, BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha on Tuesday asked Muslims in West Bengal to come forward and support NRC.
“I will urge Muslims and especially those living in Bengal, to come forward and support NRC implementation in this state. Under TMC rule, West Bengal has become a hub for infiltrators who have taken over our jobs, food and employment opportunities,” he said.