Mamata backtracks on demand for U.N. monitored referendum

Published : December 20, 2019 18:49 IST

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee addressing a rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Kolkata on December 20. Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP

A day after demanding a “U.N. monitored referendum” on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee backtracked on her earlier statement saying what she wanted was an “opinion poll” conducted by non-political experts.

Addressing an anti-CAA rally in Kolkata on December 19, Mamata had challenged the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre to face a referendum on the CAA and the NRC. “If you really have the courage then on the issues of CAA and NRC let there be a gana vote (plebiscite) all over India. You [the BJP] will not conduct the vote, the United Nations will. An impartial organisation. Let them play a very important role,” she said.

However, the next day, she said it was not a referendum, but an opinion poll that she wanted. “Taking away the citizenship from someone is an attack on human rights. So, why should I not demand an opinion poll involving non-political experts, and let the Human Rights Commission keep a watch on the process,” she said. The Chief Minister maintained that she did not seek a “referendum” but a “gana vote”. “I mentioned only gana vote—opinion poll,” she tried to clarify at a press conference. However, gana vote does not mean opinion poll.

Mamata, who hit the streets in protest against the CAA and the proposed nation-wide NRC, onm December 16, announced a prolonged agitation programme spread over West Bengal till New Year. “January 1, which is Trinamool’s foundation day, will be celebrated as Citizens’ Rights Day,” said Mamata.

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