Mamata Banerjee Defies Governor, Hits The Streets Against Citizenship Act

Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Bengal, led a massive protest march through the heart of Kolkata on Monday, against the citizenship law. Hundreds of her party leaders and supporters walked with her carrying posters and flags against the controversial law.

Mamata Banerjee’s march from a statue of BR Ambedkar on Red Road to Jorasanko Thakurbari – the childhood home of Rabindranath Tagore — was dubbed unconstitutional by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, whose ties with the Chief Minister have been tense and acrimonious.

I am extremely anguished that CM (chief minister) and Ministers are to spearhead rally against CAA, the law of the land. This is unconstitutional. I call upon CM to desist from this unconstitutional and inflammatory act at this juncture and devote to retrieve the grim situation,” the Governor tweeted.

Earlier, the Chief Minister had urged people to join her rally against the “unconstitutional” Citizenship Amendment Act. “A mega rally will be held today in Kolkata to protest against unconstitutional CABBill and #NRC. It will begin at 1 pm near the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar on Red Road and end at Jorasanko Thakurbari. Come, let us all, every section of society, join this people’s movement in a peaceful manner within the ambit of law,” Ms Banerjee tweeted.

Ms Banerjee plans similar marches till Wednesday to underline her fierce opposition to the citizenship law, which, she says, she will not allow in Bengal. It has opened yet another conflict point between the Chief Minister and the BJP in the one-upmanship ahead of the Bengal polls due in 2021. The new law seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who escaped persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and entered India before 2015.

The Governor summoned the Chief Secretary and police chief to discuss the situation. On Sunday, amid protests in several parts of West Bengal, internet services were suspended temporarily as a precautionary measure.

Mr Dhankhar described the situation in Bengal as “seriously compromising” the values of the constitution. He also said he had called the two top officials because of the “highly disturbing developments” in the state.

The Trinamool Congress held protests across the state even on Sunday. Party leaders including ministers held rallies and demanded that the citizenship law be scrapped, alleging that it discriminated against Muslims.

Protests against the citizenship law turned violent last evening in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia University and the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. Several students and policemen were injured in clashes and 100 students were detained in a crackdown on campus that has been denounced by Jamia students and teachers.

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