Rejecting Opposition concern over the exclusion of 40 lakh people in Assam from the draft National Register of Citizens, BJP president Amit Shah Tuesday said his party is committed to implement the NRC “firmly and fairly… to the last full stop” because the issue is about “national security, security of borders and the citizens of this country”.
Slamming the Opposition parties for their “votebank politics that have been placed above national interest”, Shah said each party must make clear its position on illegal Bangladeshis in the country.
“The illegal migration has been damaging the national security of this country. People were being killed. The NRC is for protecting human rights, the rights of Indians. The country cannot run like this… You cannot have people from everywhere. The Opposition should explain if it has consideration for national security. How do you protect the country by encouraging and protecting illegal migrants? The NRC is for security. It is our firm stand and we will implement it. For us, it is top priority. There should not be any confusion on it,” he told a press conference at the BJP headquarters.
Earlier in the day, Shah’s remarks in Rajya Sabha on the NRC led to an uproar. He targeted the Congress: “NRC is being conducted on SC (Supreme Court) order. There are 40 lakh people (missing in the list)… Whom do you want to save? You want to save illegal Bangladeshis… this was the Congress PM’s initiative. He (Rajiv Gandhi) did not have the courage. We have courage and we are doing it.”
Stopped by an angry Opposition, he continued to target the Opposition at his party office. H\e said he was “stunned and shocked” by the attack: “I want the Congress party to clarify what is its stand on Bangladeshi illegal migrants. I want Rahul Gandhi to clarify it, I want Trinamool Congress to clarify it. There cannot be two views on it. You have to come out with your stand on it.”
“You are accusing the BJP of bias for implementing NRC. Where has it originated? When people’s lives were troubled, students in the state had held a long agitation… Assam accord was signed by then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi. It was the Congress party’s full majority government… NRC is the soul of the Assam accord,” he said.
Wondering how could Congress question “just for vote bank politics”, Shah said: “Your government tried to do it in Assam in 2005 also. But you did not have the guts. You did not have the courage to push Bangladeshi illegal migrants out of the country. Because for you, vote bank was more important, not the country’s security. For you, the rights of the citizens were not important.”
He said it is a matter of “grave sorrow” that no party, apart from the BJP and BJD, found it fit to say that illegal immigrants have no place in this country. Shah said his party never had double standards on the issue “unlike the Congress which has one stand when it is in power and another while in Opposition.” He said “the BJP, even while it was in Opposition, had taken a position against the Bangladeshi illegal migrants”.
While assuring that no Indian should be worried about Assam’s NRC because the names of genuine Indian citizens will not be deleted and they would get opportunity for claims and objections, Shah differentiated between refugees and illegal migrants.
“When a person comes from another country to protect his dignity, identity, properties and religion, he is a refugee. Those who are coming for jobs or for other economic purposes are illegal migrants.” He said that is the reason the BJP wanted to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which allows minorities from other countries to come to India.
Asked about the voting rights of those excluded from the draft NRC, Shah said that will be l;ooked at by the Election Commission only after the NRC process is completed.
On human rights concerns raised by some parties and rights bodies, he said he is concerned about the rights of Indian citizens whose resources are being grabbed by illegal immigrants.
Unleashing a sharp attack on Mamata Banerjee for her remarks that there could be civil war and bloodbath, Shah said: “She should clarify what kind of civil war she is talking about. Mamataji sees nothing other than vote bank… everyone has their own prism… we see the national interest and she is looking at other things.”