CAA rules will be framed by March 30, 2024: Union minister announces in Bengal
Union minister of state for home affairs, Ajay Kumar Mishra announced the decision at in West Bengal while attending a festival of the Dalit Matua community that has been demanding CAA
The rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will be framed by the Centre by March 30, 2024, Union minister of state for home affairs, Ajay Kumar Mishra announced on Sunday at Thakurnagar in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district while attending a festival of the Dalit Matua community that has been demanding it.
“I am assuring that members of the Matua community will not lose their citizenship. They are all safe. According to the latest information I have, the laws for CAA will be framed by March 30, 2024,” Mishra told a large crowd that gathered for the annual Ras Utsav.
The Centre earlier said that it is in the process of framing laws for the CAA.
During his 2021 election campaigns at Thakurnagar, Union home minister Amit Shah had announced that the Centre would enforce CAA once Covid-19 vaccination across the country was over. However, the BJP has not spoken on this issue since then and it suffered a setback in the Bengal panchayat polls earlier this year.
Passed by Parliament in 2020, CAA offers citizenship to religious minorities who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) insists that CAA is unconstitutional saying that it excludes Muslims and links citizenship to faith in a secular country.
The Matuas are a part of the large Dalit Namasudra community that migrated from East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) during India’s partition in 1947 and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to escape religious persecution.
Located close to the Bangladesh border, Thakurnagar town has the headquarter of the All India Matua Mahasangha of which BJP leader and Union minister of state for shipping, Shantanu Thakur, is the president.
Thakur was present on the dais when Mishra made the announcement on Sunday afternoon. Since 2019, Thakur represents the Bongaon Lok Sabha seat which was earlier won by his aunt and TMC leader Mamata Bala Thakur.
Implementation of the CAA has been the principal demand of the Matuas. Shantanu Thakur raised it too on several occasions.
Support of the Matua and other Dalit communities helped BJP win several seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 state polls.
Shantanu Thakur was made a minister of state during the Union cabinet reshuffle in 2021. This was seen as a move by the BJP central leadership to keep the Matuas happy. Thakur even accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh on the eve of the 2021 assembly polls. Modi offered prayers at the Matua temple at Orakandi near Dhaka and praised Thakur in his speech, triggering a sharp reaction from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Reacting to Mishra’s announcement, TMC leaders said BJP is once again raising the citizenship issue in Bengal with eyes on the coming Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP won 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 but two of its MPs, Babul Supriyo and Arjun Singh, joined the TMC over the last two years. While Singh has not yet resigned from the BJP and the Lok Sabha, the Asansol seat vacated by Supriyo was won in a bypoll by actor-turned politician Shatrughan Sinha.
TMC Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen said: “CAA is a thorn for the BJP. During the 2021 assembly polls, BJP did not even mention CAA in Assam but raised it in Bengal hoping to capture votes. In Gujarat, on the other hand, attempts are being made to enforce CAA in some districts. Bengal’s Matuas have understood the trick.”
“Mamata Banerjee has said several times that Bengal does not need CAA because those people have been casting their votes, owning property and having jobs for decades, and are already citizens. They do not need fresh citizenship certificates from the Centre,” Sen added.