Mamata Banerjee Drags Centre to Supreme Court Over Its Aadhaar Policy

The West Bengal chief minister is protesting the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing the benefits of various social welfare schemes.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee continues to up the ante in her fight against the BJP and its policies. In yet another act of defiance, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader on Friday (October 27)  dragged the Centre to the Supreme Court over making Aadhaar mandatory for financial transactions and availing social welfare benefits. The case is expected to be heard in court on October 30.

With the BJP fast replacing the once formidable Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) as the main opposition in Bengal, Banerjee has trained her guns on the party, identifying it as her primary political adversary. Over the past six months, Banerjee has made clear her determination to resist the Centre’s move to push through controversial policies that she and her party do not endorse. From all indications, she has no intentions of retreating from the fight.

Clearly, Aadhaar has continued to be at the centre of a continued political tug-of-war between Bengal and the Centre. Earlier this week, at her own party meeting, the chief minister had said she will not link her mobile phone number with Aadhaar. “I will not link Aadhaar with my phone, if they want to disconnect my phone, let them,” Banerjee told her party colleagues.

Attacking the Centre for intruding into people’s privacy, the chief minister said, “They [the Centre] are interfering in the people’s rights and privacy. The Aadhaar number should not be linked with one’s mobile phone.”

While sections of civil society have already petitioned the court on the government decision to link Aadhaar with mobile numbers, bank accounts and filing of income tax returns, Banerjee’s clearly is the most vociferous voice to have emerged from within the opposition ranks.

Her protest is likely to resonate with underprivileged families, many of whom are being denied basic welfare services simply because they do not possess Aadhaar numbers. For instance, recently an 11-year-old died of starvation in Jharkhand’s Simdega district after her family’s ration card was cancelled for not being linked to their Aadhaar number, activists alleged. Government authorities though have stuck to the claim that Santoshi Kumari from Karimati village died of malaria and not hunger.

(With PTI inputs)