Kolkata: A day after seeking a UN-controlled referendum on the new controversial citizenship law, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did a volte face on Friday, saying she had merely sought an opinion poll on the issue.
“I did not say referendum. I said gana vote. I meant an opinion poll overseen by experts like the Human Rights Commission. I have full faith in my country and its people. I want an opinion poll on CAA and NRC,” Banerjee told the media here.
Clarifying further, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “When you snatch citizenship rights, then you hurt human rights too. Then for the sake of protecting the rights of the people why shouldn’t I call for taking the help of experts in conducting an opinion poll?
“And shouldn’t the country’s non-political people, whom people all know, and who would give the right data, keep a watch on that process along the human rights commission?” Banerjee asked.
On Thursday, Banerjee had drawn flak from various quarters after she dared the BJP to arrange for the referendum to be conducted by the United Nations.
“If you have the guts, let there be a referendum across the country on CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) issues. You won’t conduct it, it will be conducted by the United Nations – an impartial organisation.
“Let them play a very important role. Let there be a committee of experts of UN, human rights. Neither the Trinamool, nor BJP nor any other parties will be there.
“If you lose, you have to resign. This is a challenge,” she had said.
Soon after Banerjee’s statement, the BJP pounced on the issue, with union minister Prakash Javadekar seeking an apology from her while the party’s West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh alleged she was speaking the language of Pakistan. Leaders of Congress and CPI-M also disapproved of her remark.
Saying that he was “pained and hurt” at the statement, state governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also appealed to her to withdraw the comment.