CITING “CONFUSION, apprehension and bitterness” over the new National Population Register (NPR) form, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said his party, an ally of the BJP-led government at the Centre, would urge the government to drop the columns pertaining to the date and place of birth of parents of respondents.
While the government said last week that these questions “will be considered dropped” if the respondent does not provide the details as they are supposed to be optional, Nitish said people would not want to leave these columns blank as they fear that it may be misinterpreted “if the NRC (National Register of Citizens) is implemented some day”.
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Speaking to reporters after a party meeting, Nitish said JD(U) MPs would take up the matter at the next NDA meeting.
“I think there is no need for a new NPR format as the columns seeking information on the place and date of birth of parents are not necessary. I too don’t remember my mother’s date of birth. Most of us may not know, or remember, these details. I think we should stick to the 2011 NPR format, as the new one has led to an atmosphere of confusion, apprehension and bitterness. JD(U) leaders in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will take up this matter,” he said.
He said the poor would face problems in filling these columns. “They cannot leave it blank either as they fear that if the NRC is implemented some day, the blank columns will be misinterpreted. Since there is growing bitterness about the issue, we will put in a request for retaining the old format,” he said.
Last week, responding to reports that Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister and leader of BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party, had said the government may consider the demand to remove these questions, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar had said: “No, it is not like that. The question will be considered dropped as only those who want to respond will do so… There are many questions that are optional. If you remember the place and date of birth of your father and mother, then give it; if you don’t remember, then don’t give it.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Paswan had said nobody could be deprived of citizenship just because he/ she does not know his/ her parents’ date and place of birth. “If you don’t know your parents’ date of birth, that column will be left blank. Whatever information you give regarding the date of birth, it will be considered as document. No documentary proof will be required for this,” Paswan had said.
On the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Nitish said the protests against the law were not good for “social cohesion”. “Now that the CAA is up for scrutiny by the Supreme Court, we should leave it to the court to decide its legality,” he said.
He said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clarified that there would be no pan-India NRC, there was no reason to create any confusion about it. Nitish also said the Census should include details on caste, as it would give an idea on the number of beneficiaries of welfare schemes.
‘Kishor free to quit’
Breaking his silence on party national vice-president Prashant Kishor’s diatribe against the BJP on CAA, NPR, NRC, Nitish said he was free to quit the party. “I have already said that we inducted him (Kishor) into the JD(U) at the instance of Amit Shah. Whether he wants to stay with us or leave the party is up to him. He may as well have something else in mind. He is free to go… But if he chooses to stay back, he should adopt and conform to the basic norms of the party,” he said.
Kishor, when contacted, said in a text message: “You should wait for the answer. Will come to Bihar to answer him.” Both Kishor and senior party leader Pavan Varma skipped the meeting on Tuesday.
Kishor later tweeted, “@NitishKumar what a fall for you to lie about how and why you made me join JDU!! Poor attempt on your part to try and make my colour same as yours! And if you are telling the truth who would believe that you still have courage not to listen to someone recommended by @AmitShah?”
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