Asserting that the National Population Register (NPR) is nothing but “NRC (National Register of Citizens) in disguise”, Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday said all political parties fighting against the National Population Register (NPR), CAA and NRC must come together.
Addressing mediapersons after holding a leadership training camp with state party leaders at Bidhan Bhawan here, Chidambaram said, “We are fighting against NRC and CAA. Sometimes together, sometimes differently. The important thing is that we are fighting. It is possible that in Bengal and many other states there are some domestic factors at play. But one should not miss the larger picture, which is the fight to save the Constitution. All those fighting for values must eventually come together on a single platform. I am confident they will,” he said.
The former finance minister said that the Narendra Modi government has changed gears and is now only talking about the NPR following the fiasco in Assam over the NRC. “Our purpose is to fight the sinister purpose of the CAA and NPR and mobilise public opinion against them. Our stated position is that we will not agree to NPR being rolled out from April 2020,” he said.
He said that states are justified in opposing the implementation of the NPR and CAA as the Constitutional validity lies with the Supreme Court.
Reacting to opposition-ruled states participating in the January 17 meeting on the NPR, Chidambaram said participation does not mean acceptance. “It is about knowing what the other side thinks about it. The Census commissioner called the meeting, inviting officers of state governments. The states sent their officers to find out and place on table their views. Several chief secretaries attending the meeting found pitfalls in the NPR,” he said.
“Participation does not mean acquiescence. The Centre invites the officers of the state government to state its case as to why NPR should be rolled out. The officers of the state government go and attend the meeting to find out what the views of the Census Commissioner are. They place on the table why they are opposing the NPR. That’s the correct thing to do,” Chidambaram said.
Except the Trinamool Congress government here, all state governments took part in the NPR meeting on Friday in Delhi. “And I have no doubt in my mind that the Congress chief ministers will take a position consistent with the Congress Working Committee’s resolution (opposing the NPR rollout from April 1). There is no constitutional issue involved (in states opposing the CAA). CAA is an issue before the Supreme Court now. Therefore, the states are perfectly justified in saying what they feel, the states are entitled to,” he said.
Chidambaram also said that the Narendra Modi government will not do something foolish like penalising crores of people who won’t cooperate in the NPR exercise, scheduled to start from April 1, 2020.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines