NRC electoral gimmick: Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the BJP-led central government on Monday over the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, saying the move was nothing but an “electoral gimmick”.

She also told the people not to “bother about it”.

“If one fails to produce the proof of his or her date of birth, then that person will be driven out in the name of (the updation of) the NRC, the person will not be considered a citizen,” the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said, adding that many of the older generations did not have such documents as the situation was different in the past.

“Do not try to label genuine citizens as foreigners by asking for proof of their citizenship twice,” she said at a state government programme, referring to authorities seeking multiple documents.

“We all are citizens of India — we cast our votes, we have bank accounts. We have fought for the independence of this soil…. This (updation of the NRC) is an electoral gimmick, there is no need to bother about it. As long as we (those opposing the NRC) are alive, such attempts will be futile,” Banerjee added.

Apparently referring to the government allowing 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer in the country, she said people’s privacy was being breached and their phone calls, as well as those of judges and journalists, were being recorded.

“If you are talking sitting at home, then your conversation is getting recorded in the name of a sting operation. Even the conversations of journalists and judges are being recorded. Life is not secure, properties are not safe.

“Earlier, we used to hear that privacy, democracy are our rights…property is our right. But now, we are slowly losing these rights… We have to save the country,” the chief minister said.

Apparently hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “not showing proper respect” to sportspersons, Banerjee told the gathering at the programme, which was held to honour sportspersons with the state’s “Khelashree” award, that governments should look after the sports personalities throughout the year and not only when they performed.

“Only Khelo India (a government scheme) will not help. We have to keep them (sportspersons) in mind throughout the year and not only when they are performing,” she said, adding that her government would launch a pension programme for needy sportspersons in the state.

“The expenses for it will be included in the budget of the sports department,” Banerjee added.

The “Khelashree” scheme, started in 2012 (financial year 2011-12), is aimed at improving the sports infrastructure in West Bengal, including building stadium and gyms, buying equipment and constructing equipment storage spaces.

Under the scheme, the West Bengal government rewards eminent sportspersons of the state.

“We have helped 24,000 clubs in the state with a Rs 5 lakh package each in four years. This year, we have decided to help 4,300 clubs with Rs 2 lakh each and then Rs 1 lakh each for three years from next year after submitting the audit report,” the chief minister said.

The budget of the sports department was hiked to Rs 515 crore under the TMC government from the previous Left Front government’s Rs 73 crore.

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