BJP president Amit Shah and the central leadership has been sent a desperate missive by the BJP’s West Bengal unit to tone down the rhetoric on the need for a National Register of Citizens (published for Assam a few months ago) in other States too. For, when it comes to Bengal, where the BJP top brass thought, for lack of a better word, that the issue of Bangladeshi/Rohingya infiltrators (ghuspetiye) which Shah likened to “termites” eating into the country’s vitals would gain them traction and support, the ruling Trinamool Congress has very effectively turned the issue against the party. The reasons are not too far to seek.
Anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the history of the animus that exists within indigenous communities in Assam towards Bengali migrants/settlers in that State irrespective of faith which has resulted in bouts of blood-letting over the decades would know that there is a genuine sense of being picked on in Bengali-speaking communities in those parts. Many families in West Bengal have relatives and acquaintances settled in Assam and other parts of the North-east and Mamata Banerjee has effectively used the scandalous omissions in the draft NRC for Assam to make the point that in the garb of throwing out infiltrators, the BJP is targeting Bengali-speakers. The BJP is now feeling the political heat of this campaign in West Bengal where it has ambitions of making major gains in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.