Mamata meets Modi in Kolkata, then joins dharna against CAA

Published : January 11, 2020 19:54 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a meeting at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kolkata on January 11, and urged him to reconsider the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Immediately after meeting Modi, Mamata joined an anti-CAA rally organised by the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress, and condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre. Modi is in Kolkata on a two-day visit to take part in the 150 years celebration of the Kolkata Port Trust and also rededicate three heritage buildings to the people of the city.

“I told him, ‘you are my guest and I do not know whether I should broach this topic now, but we are against the CAA, NPR and NRC. There should not be inequality among the people, no person’s citizenship should be taken away and nobody should be oppressed—these matters should be looked into. Please reconsider CAA and NRC. We want them withdrawn’. These things I told him [the Prime Minister],” said Mamata after coming out of the meeting which lasted less than half an hour in the Raj Bhavan. According to Mamata, Modi told her that he was in Kolkata for just a few programmes, and once in Delhi, if the opportunity arose, he would have a talk about this.

Mamata also raised the issue of Central funds due to the State. “Around Rs.28,000 crore is due to the State from the Centre…. The Centre also owes the State another Rs.7,000 crore for [destruction caused by Cyclone] Bulbul,” she said.

After meeting the Prime Minister, Mamata headed straight to the “Dharna Mancha”, Mamata’s regular protest site in central Kolkata, where the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad was staging an agitation against the CAA. While Modi was attending a cultural programme, in which he was rededicating the newly renovated Old Currency Building to the city of Kolkata, barely two kilometers away, on a stage on the side of the road, Mamata was lashing out against his government at the Centre. “As long there is life in me, we will not allow CAA and NRC to take place…. I have told the Prime Minister we will not allow CAA and NRC in the State,” she said at the protest site.

Mamata also attacked the Left and the Congress, whose recent bandh was quite successful in West Bengal in spite of the State government’s opposition to it. “I have seen some, who do not do any work, but burn a few buses in the name of protest. That is a ploy to destroy the entire protest movement,” she said. Amid chants and slogans against the BJP, CAA, NRC and NPR, Mamata scratched out the words CAA, NRC and NPR, written on a blackboard and began to lead the chant “BJP shame shame”.

Immediately after leaving the protest site, Mamata joined Modi on stage for another programme.

Modi’s visit also sparked off protests by the CPI(M) and the Congress and student organisations in different parts of the city. Various organisations took to the streets, carrying black flags and posters saying “Go Back Modi”.