Kolkata, Dec 17 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comment that people indulging in arson during the anti-CAA protests can be identified by their “dress” and said the thought of categorising a political movement from the attire of participants has never crossed her mind.
“Can you recognise my dress? Is it bad?” Banerjee said pointing at her cotton saree before leading a huge march against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) here.
Banerjee then brought a group of Trinamool workers and cultural personalities on the stage and repeated her comment by pointing at their attire.
One of them Bengali actor Sohom was wearing a cap.
“Is his dress bad?” Banerjee said, adding “or is it whenever you see somebody with a cap you think only they (an apparent reference to Muslims) wear such an attire?” she commented.
Banerjee continued “Don’t Punjabis wear headgear? Don’t Christians wear long white robes? Dress, eating habits are personal choices.
“I have never even thought of categorising a political movement from the dress of participants,” she said.
Addressing an election rally at Dumko in Jharkhand on Sunday, Modi said “Those people who are setting fire (to property) can be seen on TV… One can identify them by the clothes they are wearing.”
Banerjee lambasted the BJP for its “divisive policies”. “They sometimes say they will build a temple, or destroy a mosque. Sometimes they talk of driving out Muslims, sometimes they say they will withdraw Anglo-Indian reservation in Parliament. They break statues of Ambedkar.
“Anybody who opposes the BJP or protests against it is dubbed an anti-national. Now they are torturing students of Jamia Millia Islamia,” she said.
Banerjee urged those protesting against the CAA in Bengal to eschew violence and cautioned them that the BJP was “hatching conspiracies” and using its guile to break the movement.
“They are deploying people who are setting fire and fleeing. Hand over such people to the police after dousing the fire,” she said, with Trinamool Congress actress MPs Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty by her side.
Banerjee said the Trinamool, in contrast, would launch “disciplined and peaceful” movement.
Stressing on communal harmony during such protests, she said a strong democratic movement can take place only when the majority supports the minority and vice versa. “if your house is on fire, both Ram and Rahim will feel the heat”.
She said that her party’s sole slogan for the movement was “No NRC, No CAB”.
“Nobody will have to leave Bengal. We will see to it,” she said.
The Trinamool Congress supremo empathised with the democratic movements against the CAA and NRC in various parts of the country and said “The BJP thinks just because they have a slender majority in parliament they have captured the entire country.
“You can pass an Act if you have the numbers. But it cannot be implemented without people’s support,” she said.
In an apparent attempt at defending some of her MPs who have drawn flak for being absent in Parliament during voting on the CAA, Banerjee said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was not passed as per Constitutional provisions.
“We were not told when the bill will be passed. So some of our MPs could not reach Parliament in time,” she said.
Banerjee claimed that people were asked to furnish their mother’s birth certificate during the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam that concluded earlier this year.
“How many people can give their mother’s birth certificate? If you ask me for my mother’s birth date, I won’t be able to provide. There was no institutional delivery during that time. Earlier the midwives used to do everything. Nobody went to hospital,” she said.
Banerjee advised college and university students to wear slogans “No CAB, No NRC” embossed on them as a means of democratic protest.