Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram on Monday said the exercise to update National Population Register (NPR) “must be stoutly opposed” as the NPR this time, unlike in 2010, is a “disguised attempt” to do an Assam NRC-like exercise throughout the country. The NRC-CAA-NPR exercise, he said, is part of the RSS-BJP plan to push its divisive agenda of a Hindu Rashtra.
Chidambaram, however, was not forthcoming on whether Congress governments in Rajasathan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab would stop the NPR exercise in their states. TMC-ruled West Bengal and Left-ruled Kerala have already issued orders stopping the NPR exercise in their respective states.
Asked whether the Congress has formally decided that its state governments will not participate in the NPR exercise, Chidambaram said “that question should be put to the Chief Ministers”.
“As of now our position is, we oppose the CAA and NPR exercise. Now when is NPR exercise going to start as far as the Government of India is concerned, I don’t know. Let them first indicate that an NPR exercise has to start. I don’t think there is any directive so far from the central government…” he told reporters.
He said there is a world of difference between NPR 2010 and NPR 2020. “NPR 2010 was conducted in a few states when there was no controversy about NRC and without the unhappy experience of the Assam NRC. Secondly, there was no CAA looming large. Thirdly, NPR 2010 gathered data in respect of only 15 fields….” he said.
“NPR 2020 will ask for information on the last place of residence, the place of birth of the parents, voter identity, passport number, driver’s licence, PAN and Aadhaar. Who added these additional fields and why? In terms of text and context, NPR 2010 and NPR 2020 are very different. NPR 2020 with the additional fields is a disguised attempt to do an Assam NRC-like exercise throughout the country and, therefore, it must be stoutly opposed,” he said.
Chidambaram said NRC was a “sinister and mischievous plan” to divide the country.
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