Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s statement that he has no problems with the exercise of updating the National Population Register (NPR) in the state could lead to a face-off between the Shiv Sena and its alliance partners, the Congress and NCP. The Congress high command on Wednesday expressed its displeasure over Thackeray’s statement and reminded him that he is leading a coalition government.
“Our stand is very clear. We will not implement NPR… What he is saying is his stand… We will tell him (Thackeray) that decisions should be taken by the three parties together. Because this is a decision of tiranga…not saffron alone. Till the three parties meet and take a decision, he should not allow NPR in the state,” AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Mallikarjun Kharge, told The Indian Express.
Sources in the Sena said that Chief Minister Thackeray had taken a well-considered position on the NPR and there was no question of any reversal. At the same time, the sources maintained that there was no threat to the coalition government on account of their differences over the NPR and Bhima Koregaon issues.
Thackeray told the media on Monday that his government would not block data collection for updating the NPR in Maharashtra. “The NPR is different from the NRC. It is part of the Census. It happens every 10 years,” he said. The Chief Minister, however, made it clear that his government will not support NRC. Regarding the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, he said that it would not affect anyone in India.
Kharge said the NPR and Census were different. “They have put additional questions in the NPR like birthplace and birth date of father and mother…people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes…those who are uneducated among them, they can’t tell the birthplace or birth dates of their parents,” he said.
“While surveying, they will write ‘questionable’ against the name of the person. You are put in the questionable category. And when tomorrow they will bring NRC…at that time they will say this person’s credentials are questionable and there should be further inquiry…till the inquiry is completed…he will not get any facilities…then he will have to run from pillar to post — Tahsildar’s office, AC office, DC office…after that courts…to claim one certificate. This will amount to harassing people who are already citizens of the country,” he said.
Kharge said, “Our people in the state…in the cabinet…have conveyed to them our party’s stand …our people have protested. Our party’s stand is clear. Whatever decision is taken by the all-India party…the same will be applicable to Maharashtra. Maharashtra cannot be an exception.”
Asked what the Congress will do if Thackeray sticks to his stand on NPR, he said, “Let us see…I cannot say anything unless we discuss the issue with NCP and the high command holds discussions.”
The Congress Working Committee had on January 12 asked the BJP government at the Centre to stop the process of updating the National Population Register, with party president Sonia Gandhi describing NPR 2020 as a “disguised NRC in form and content”.
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