In the recent development reported from West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Alo Rani Sarkar has turned out to be a Bangladeshi national. Sarkar had unsuccessfully contested the 2021 West Bengal State Legislative polls from the Bangaon Dakshin constituency, where BJP leader Swapan Majumdar had registered electoral victory. The discrepancy in Sarkar’s citizenship came to the fore after she challenged Majumdar’s victory in the Calcutta High Court. Justice Bibek Chaudhuri heard her petition. During the proceedings, the court observed that the TMC candidate was a Bangladeshi national when she filed the nomination on Election Day and the day of the declaration of the result. “From the face of the petitioner’s document, it is found that the petitioner had no right to contest the assembly election of 2021,” observed the court.
It further emphasized, “As she is not a citizen of India, she shall not be qualified to be chosen to fill a seat in the legislature of a State in terms of Article 173 of the Constitution read with Section 16 of the Representation of People Act, 1950.”
The Calcutta High Court observed that Sarkar was married to a Bangladeshi citizen named Harendra Nath Sarkar in 1980. Dr. Harendra Nath Sarkar is a professor of medicine at Barishal’s Sher-e-Bangla Medical College. The petitioner had stayed with her husband in the Islamic country for some years. However, owing to marital discord, she moved to India permanently.
As per her affidavit, on November 5, 2020, she had tendered an application for the revocation of her name from Bangladesh’s electoral roll and submitted the National Identity Card (NIC) of Bangladesh. However, the Senior District Election Officer (Barisal) actioned the obliteration of Sarkar’s name from Bangladesh’s electoral rolls only on June 29, 2021,
The TMC candidate had filed her nomination to contest from the Bangaon Dakshin constituency on March 31, 2021. The elections were held on April 22, 2021, and the results were announced on May 2.
These findings imply that Alo Rani Sarkar was a Bangladeshi citizen while filing her nomination and casting her vote during the 2021 polls. Because Bharat does not recognize dual citizenship, the TMC leaders contesting elections and casting votes were both illegal. She was not a Bharatiya citizen has had no rights to vote or contest in West Bengal.
Defending herself, Alo Rani Sarkar claimed that her name had erroneously appeared in the voter list of Harendra Nath Sarkar’s native place in Bangladesh. However, it was marked that Sarkar had ‘voluntarily’ submitted her SSC certificate to the authorities and opted to be included in the electoral rolls in Bangladesh.
The TMC candidate subsequently claims that she was born in West Bengal’s Baidyabati on March 22, 1969. Hence, she is a Bharatiya citizen as per the Indian citizen by birth under the Citizenship Act of 1955. However, she failed to provide any document establishing that she was born in West Bengal. Justice Bibek Chaudhuri also noted discrepancies in the date of birth provided by Sarkar. While her DOB as per Bharat’s Aadhar/ Pan Card has been mentioned as March 22, 1969, the National Identity Card issued by Bangladeshi authorities reflects it as of January 15, 1967.
Alo Rani Sarkar has admitted that her ancestors hailed from the Pirojpur district of Bangladesh. She has also accepted that her brother and mother still reside in Necharabad. Sarkar claimed during an inquiry that she lived in West Bengal with her uncle.
However, after hearing the claims and scrutinizing the documents, the court held, “It is needless to say that the petitioner has claimed to be a citizen of this country by birth. But from the inquiry report on which she relies in her written objection against the application under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the CPC it is ascertained that her parents used to live in Bangladesh and she came to India with her uncle in her childhood, meaning thereby that the petitioner was born in Bangladesh.”
The justice cited the disparities in the election affidavit and inquiry report and questioned, “It is not clear even on this date as to whether her name has been deleted from the electoral roll of Bangladesh.”
Another observation by the justice stated, “The petitioner has not claimed acquisition of citizenship under Section 3 or 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1955. She has not acquired citizenship by registration under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act of 1955.”
The Calcutta High Court thus ruled that the petitioner does not fall within the purview of the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act either. Therefore, even if the petitioner has procured an Aadhar Card, voter identity card, and passport, these documents do not establish her citizenship in this country.
It has been clear that Alo Rani Sarkar was not a Bharatiya Citizen, and despite being a Bangladeshi, she contested in the Bharatiya election process and voted also. In a democracy, every vote counts; Sarkar’s vote was one of those that helped TMC form government in the border state. Sarkar is perhaps not just one Bangladeshi national; she is just the one who has been caught. We will never know how many more such Bangladeshis have voted in the 2021 West Bengal elections to assure TMC’s victory.