Joining the growing list of Chief Ministers opposed to a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy said Monday that NRC would not be implemented in the state.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, too, declared that the new citizenship law and the proposed NRC would not be implemented in their respective states.
Hemant Soren, who is set to take over as the next Chief Minister of Jharkhand, too expressed reservations over the NRC.
The CMs of Opposition-ruled states West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel and Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan have already opposed both the CAB and NRC. The declaration by Gehlot came even as there was pressure on the Congress leadership to ask its CMs to take a position on the new citizenship law and the NRC.
Political weight to pushback
The growing number of CMs against NRC adds significant political weight to the pushback. More so, since many of their parties voted for CAA. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s rejection comes after the PM’s dialling down the rhetoric on Sunday. The signal is clear: Opposition isn’t convinced.
Addressing a Congress protest in the national capital, Gehlot declared that his government will not implement the new citizenship law and the NRC. His Madhya Pradesh counterpart Kamal Nath, however, was silent on the NRC even as he said that his government would not implement CAA.
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“The Madhya Pradesh government rejects this law…we will not abide by it,” he said. Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo, on behalf of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, said the CAA and NRC will not be implemented in his state either.
Senior JD(U) leader Prashant Kishor, who nudged Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take a position against the NRC, urged other Opposition chief ministers especially those from the Congress to take a clear position on the NRC. Talking to The Indian Express, he said: “It is important for the Congress leadership to announce that Congress-ruled states will not implement CAA-NRC under any circumstances.”
“Having called CAA-NRC unconstitutional, the Congress can’t let its state governments implement CAA-NRC especially when it is clear that the only effective way to stop the implementation of CAA-NRC is to ensure that most of the non BJP Chief Ministers say no to CAA-NRC in their states. More than six non-BJP Chief Ministers have said no to NRC in their respective states. However, while many of the Congress Chief Ministers have spoken against CAA-NRC, except for Amrinder Singh of Punjab, no other Congress Chief Ministers has officially declared that they will not implement CAA-NRC in their states,” he said.
Gehlot said the BJP had no role in making of the Constitution. “On one hand, the Prime Minister is misleading the entire country on NRC by saying that there was no discussion….on the other hand his Home Minister had been shouting for four months that NRC will be implemented in every state…they want to divide the country in the name of religion..their agenda is that of the RSS…their agenda is to turn the country into a Hindu rashtra….in Rajasthan…we will neither implement the new citizenship law nor the NRC…they are against the basic principles of our Constitution,” he said.
In Ranchi, Soren said he will decide on implementing CAA and NRC after studying the issue in detail. “But prima facie it seems that like during demonetisation people will be forced to stand in queues….will people work or stand in queues for documents to prove their citizenship,” Soren told News18 after the elections results.
The statement by Reddy and Gehlot came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to allay concerns amid continuing protests across the country against the new citizenship law. Contradicting his ministers and party leaders, Modi said on Sunday that his government had not held any discussions on a pan-India NRC yet.
Speaking at a function to lay the foundation stone for Kadapa Steel Plant at Sunnapuralla Palli, Jagan said: “My minority brothers are asking me to make a statement on NRC. I am making it clear that we will oppose the NRC in our state. We will not support it… Deputy Chief Minister Azmath Basha has already stated earlier that any move that is against the interests of Muslims will not be supported. We will stand by the minorities.’’
The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), which has 22 members in Lok Sabha and two in Rajya Sabha, voted for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament.
Last week, Nitish and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the NRC would not be implemented in their states. Both the JD(U) and BJD had supported the CAB in Parliament. Earlier, senior JD(U) leaders Pawan Verma and Kishor had criticised their party for supporting CAA.
Lok Janshakti Party president Chirag Paswan — also an ally of the BJP — spoke out against the NRC last week. Some ruling parties in states — like the Telangana Rasthra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana and AAP in Delhi — have also criticised a nationwide NRC. The TRS and AAP also opposed the CAB in Parliament.
So far, eight ruling parties — the Congress, Trinamool Congress, BJD, JD(U), CPI(M), AAP, TRS and YSRCP — have opposed a nationwide NRC. Together, they are in power in 12 states — Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Kerala, Delhi, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Prime Minister Modi, meanwhile, came under fire from several opposition parties over his remarks on the NRC at his speech at the Ramlila ground Sunday.
The CPM called Modi’s speech a “bundle of untruths.” NCP chief Sharad Pawar expressed surprise at Modi’s comment and said President Ram Nath Kovind had talked about the government’s plan to implement the NRC across the country in his joint address to Parliament. And that Home Minister Amit Shah had also spoken on the NRC in the Rajya Sabha.
“Now to say there was no discussion on this (NRC in the Cabinet) is not right…I think the government has failed on every front. To divert attention of the public at large from such a situation, they are raising such issues and giving such speeches. Beyond that, there is nothing in it,” he said.