India’s federal Home Minister and former BJP Chief Amit Shah has launched a virtual election campaign for West Bengal, which will head to the polls in 2021 to elect a new state legislature.
“While democracy has strengthened its roots and has been consolidated in the entire country, West Bengal remains the only state where political violence is propagated", alleged Shah in a virtual rally on Tuesday.
The former party chief launched a sharp attack on West Bengal Chief and leader of ruling Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee, alleging she has blocked several welfare schemes launched by the federal government in the state. Shah cited Ayushman Bharat, a public health insurance scheme and a scheme to provide minimum income support to farmers.
As for Banerjee’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Shah said, she would have to pay a political price for opposing the federal legislation.
“The people of West Bengal would make her a political refugee for opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act", said Shah.
The CAA enacted by the federal government in December 2019 granted citizenship rights to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring Islamic countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, barring Muslims.
Several opposition parties in the country, including Trinamool Congress headed by Banerjee were opposed to the legislation, as they charged it was discriminatory on religious grounds and violated the Indian Constitution.
India witnessed large-scale violence, post-enactment of the legislation, and dozens of people were killed in police firings, mainly in northeastern Assam, northern Uttar Pradesh, the national capital Delhi, and southern Karnataka.