We will scrap Article 370, introduce NRC across country, says Amit Shah


GUWAHATI/DARJEELING, April 12, 2019: The BJP will scrap Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and introduce National Register for Citizens across the country if voted to power again, BJP chief Amit Shah said on Thursday, raking up the two hugely disputed issues.

On the campaign trail in West Bengal's Kalimpong in Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat and Raigang seat in North Dinajpur, he also accused TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee of questioning the air strikes to "appease" her minority vote bank, and demanded that she clarify whether she too favoured a separate prime minister for Jammu and Kashmir like her ally National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.

"We will remove Article 370 from Kashmir after forming the next BJP government at the Centre," Shah told an election rally at Kalimpong in Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency where the party has fielded industrialist Raju Singh Bisht.

Calling illegal migrants from Bangladesh "termites", Shah said at another rally in Raiganj that his party will throw them out after coming to power at the Centre for a second consecutive term.

Shah alleged that Banerjee, who is vehemently opposed to the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is currently restricted to Assam, was "misleading" people, and vowed to introduce it in every state after winning the polls.

"It is our commitment to bring in NRC across the country to chuck out each and every infiltrator. Unlike Mamata Banerjee, we don't treat infiltrators as our vote bank. For us national security is supreme. We would ensure that each and every Hindu and Buddhist refugee gets citizenship of this country," he said.

Banerjee has repeatedly claimed the NRC, which seeks to weed out illegal migrants from Assam, will turn even bonafide Indian citizens into refugees.

The NRC got mired in a massive controversy after the names of around 40 lakh people, living in Assam for decades, were omitted from the complete draft that was released last year.

He alleged that the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal was only interested in appeasing minorities.

The BJP chief claimed that TMC stood for "Tushtikaran, (appeasement), mafia and chit funds.

"Illegal migrants are like termites. They are eating our foodgrains that should go to the poor, they are taking away our jobs. The T of the TMC stands for 'Tushtikaran, M for mafia and C for chitfund (scams)," Shah said.

He also took on the West Bengal chief minister for "questioning the veracity" of the Indian Air Force's strike in Pakistan's Balakot to avenge the killing of 40 CRPF troopers in Kashmir, saying the IAF's assault was mourned in only two places–Pakistan and Mamata Banerjee's office.

"We came to know that Mamata Banerjee was mourning the air strikes. It is quite obvious that the air strikes will be mourned in Pakistan. But why is Mamata Banerjee mourning? She is mourning in order to appease her minority vote bank.

This is a shame," Shah said, attacking the West Bengal leader.

Banerjee and other opposition leaders may be interested in talks with Pakistan but the government beleives in responding to their "bullets with canon balls", he said.

"Apko (Mamata) Pakistan ke saath ilu ilu (I love you) karna hain toh kijiye. Lekin agar Pakistan goli marega toh hum gola marenge (If you are interested in love with Pakistan, you can do that but we would respond to their bullets with canon balls)," Shah said, referring to the popular love song from film Saudagar released in the early 1990s.

Mocking the grand opposition alliance proposed by Banerjee, Shah wondered why the Congress and CPI(M) were criticising the TMC if they were her allies.

"I wonder what kind of grand alliance Banerjee is proposing. She is saying vote for the grand alliance. Why are the Congress and CPI(M) criticising her TMC if they are allies at the Centre. The fact is no one is willing to stand with Banerjee. This alliance neither has a leader nor a policy," he said.

Seeking to reach out to tea garden workers, who constitute a sizeable section of the electorate, the BJP chief said his party's manifesto has promised to provide a pension of Rs 3,000 to them after the age of 60.

In Assam, where the BJP is in power, the government has twice transferred Rs 2,500 directly to their bank accounts, he said, claiming the TMC government in West Bengal neglected tea garden workers.

Shah said the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal were about "restoring democracy" in the TMC-ruled state.

Claiming that the countdown to the "corrupt" TMC government's downfall will begin on May 23, the day the Lok Sabha election results are declared, Shah appealed to the voters to give the BJP another opportunity to serve them. The BJP, he asserted, will win 23 seats in the state.

Under the TMC rule "all three–mother, motherland and people are suffering", he said, referring to the 'Ma, Maati and Manush' slogan of West Bengal's ruling party.

"Mothers are now bereft of love, infiltrators have taken away our land and people are being brutalised and killed," he said.

Shah referred to the firing incident at Darivit High School in North Dinajpur district in September last year that had left two students dead during a protest against the alleged appointment of an Urdu teacher.

He accused Banerjee of trying to "impose" Urdu on the Bengali-speaking people of the state and urged them to defeat the TMC candidate in Raiganj to avenge the killing.

Only Modi can save Bengal from the TMC and its "reign of terror", the BJP chief claimed.

The BJP is making a determined bid to expand its influence in West Bengal where the support base of the Congress and the Left has shrunk over the years.

Shah has set a somewhat ambitious target of winning 23 of the state's 42 seats. The BJP had won only two seats in the state in 2014.