The two may rarely have a good word for each other in public but on Friday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were seen dining together courtesy Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Ms Banerjee and Mr Shah had travelled to Bhubaneswar to attend a meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council (EZC), a forum of eastern states, chaired by the Home Minister. Mr Patnaik and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar were also present while Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren could not make it.
Naveen Patnaik, the vice chairman of the EZC and host of its 24th meeting, tweeted a picture of the leaders dining at his home together.
Such a pleasure having the company of Union Home Minister @AmitShah ji, my colleague CMs, @MamataOfficial, @NitishKumar ji & Union Minister @dpradhanbjp ji at Naveen Niwas. Had a wonderfully interactive time over some home cooked #Odia delicacies. pic.twitter.com/tmhfsJnDq2
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) February 28, 2020
Mr Shah, who is on his first visit to Odisha since becoming home minister, later addressed a public rally in support of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in which he accused Ms Banerjee and other opposition leaders of “lying”.
“BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), SP (Sawajwadi Party), Communist, Congress and Mamata Didi are against the CAA because they say minorities will lose their citizenship. Why are they lying? CAA is a law to give citizenship, it is not meant to take anyone’s citizenship away,” Mr Shah said.
The law, which has triggered deadly protests in the country, has been the main point of contention between Mamata Banerjee and the Union Home Minister in recent months.
Ms Banerjee has been one of the sharpest critics of the law, introduced in parliament personally by Mr Shah, and has vowed not to let it be implemented in West Bengal.
The Trinamool Congress chief has called the CAA deeply divisive and discriminatory. Making religion the test of Indian nationality for the first time, the law promises citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Mr Shah and the BJP government at the centre have maintained that the law only intends to help those who have faced religious persecution in the neighbouring countries.
However, Ms Banerjee’s party has alleged that combined with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), the CAA can be used to target only Muslims who do not have the documents necessary to prove their citizenship.
On Friday. the West Bengal Chief Minister said that there was no discussion on the CAA or the NRC at the meeting in Bhubaneswar, but she raised the issue of violence in Delhi.
Asked if she would back the demand for the resignation of Mr Shah, who controls the Delhi Police, Ms Banerjee said, “The problem should be solved first and then we will discuss politics.”