Updated: January 4, 2020 2:03:46 am
According to PTI, Trivedi said in Bhopal, “The NRC in Assam was conducted as per a Supreme Court order. We also believe there should be (nationwide) NRC in the future. But there is no draft of NRC as of now, so there is no question of controversy. When it (NRC) will happen, then raise objections; they will be heard. ”
The statement comes a day after Home Minister Amit Shah said that NRC is not on the government’s agenda yet. In an interview to ABP news channel, Shah was asked whether NRC has been kept in the cold storage; he replied, “Where have I said that?”
The statements encapsulate the uncomfortable position the BJP has put itself into after first harping on pan-India NRC and then attempting a climbdown after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in New Delhi last month that there was no discussion on NRC in the government.
Shah, however, had repeatedly spoken about inevitability of a nationwide NRC in the past, and even asked people to understand the “chronology” – that the NRC would come after CAA. “NRC has not been brought before Parliament. It has not been discussed in the Cabinet. I can assure 130 crore Indians that since 2014, when our government was formed, the term NRC has not figured in any discussion in the government,” Modi said in the rally on December 22.
Two days later, Shah said in an interview to ANI, “There is no point discussing this (NRC) because it is not under discussion at the moment. The PM rightly said it has neither been discussed in the Cabinet nor has it been spoken of in Parliament in relationship to the Act…”
In an interview published on December 29 in The Indian Express, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Rule 4 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizen and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, talks about processes like enumeration, verification, scrutiny, objection, appeal etc that have to be followed for NRC. But nothing has been done. NRC has not even been initiated…”
Asked when NRC will be implemented, Prasad said, “That position has to be taken. There is a legal process… There will be a consultation with the state government, feedback will be taken. If anything is to be done it will be done publicly.”
The PM’s statement in fact was in contrast to various statements BJP leaders and the government had made since 2014. Senior ministers and party leaders, including Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP working president J P Nadda, have made public statements about a pan-India exercise — as recently as in early December.
The BJP’s manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections also promised NRC in “other parts of the country in a phased manner”. Under the headline, ‘Combating Infiltration’, the manifesto said the party would complete the process of NRC in areas where illegal migration has affected people’s livelihood and employment. “In future, we will implement NRC in a phased manner in other parts of the country,” it said.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Shah had raised the pitch in West Bengal, where the BJP sought to use the “illegal immigrant” issue as a major poll plank to consolidate Hindu votes against the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC.
# Addressing an election rally in Darjeeling on April 11, Shah said: “We have promised in the manifesto that after Narendra Modi returns to power, NRC will be implemented across the country. The BJP will carry out the task of picking every infiltrator and throwing them out. But every Hindu and Buddhist refugee will be meticulously identified and given Indian citizenship.”
# On May 1, addressing another election rally in West Bengal, Shah said NRC will follow the citizenship Bill. “First we will pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and ensure that all refugees from neighbouring countries get Indian citizenship. After that, NRC will be made and we will detect and deport every infiltrator from our motherland,” he said.
# In a YouTube video uploaded on BJP’s official website on April 23, Shah is seen as saying: “First the CAB will come. All refugees will get citizenship. Then NRC will come. This is why refugees should not worry, but infilitrators should. Understand the chronology — CAB will come and then NRC. NRC is not just for Bengal, it’s for the entire country.”
# In fact, Shah raised the issue as early as on September 8, 2018, when, addressing the BJP national executive meeting at Dr Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi, he said: “Our stand on NRC is very clear, every infiltrator will be identified and will be thrown out of India”.
# On September 17, 2018, he asked former Congress president Rahul Gandhi to clarify his position on NRC and illegal migrants. Alleging that they were a threat to national security, he said they should be taken off the voters’ list.
# Even after becoming the Union Home Minister, Shah continued to speak on NRC — even outside Assam.
# During the debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha on December 9, Shah said NRC would be brought across the country. “We don’t need to set a background for the NRC. We will bring the NRC across the country. Not a single infiltrator will be spared,” Shah said.
# In the debate in Rajya Sabha two days later, he was silent on NRC. However, while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha on November 21, Shah had said: “The process of National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be carried out across the country. No one, irrespective of their religion, should be worried. It is just a process to get everyone under the NRC.”
# In the run-up to the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections in October, Shah repeatedly talked about a pan-India NRC at his rallies.
# Although he toned down the rhetoric during the Jharkhand poll campaign, while addressing a rally in West Singhbhum on December 2, Shah said: “…the Congress says don’t implement NRC, don’t send infiltrators. We will implement NRC in the entire country and send each and every infiltrator outside the country by the 2024 elections.”
# On December 14, addressing an election rally in Jharkhand, Rajnath Singh said a nationwide NRC was “inevitable”, and nothing could deter the government from implementing it. “Subsequent to NRC exercise, we shall sit together and take a call about the fate of illegal migrants who have settled here with a humane approach, unlike the way they are being treated in several other countries,” he said.
# On December 19, even as protests spread across the country, Nadda asserted that the CAA would be implemented and, “going forward, NRC also will be brought in”. “India is marching ahead under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will continue to do so. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be implemented, so will the NRC in future,” he said.
# On June 20, President Ram Nath Kovind, in his first address to MPs after the 17th Lok Sabha was constituted, said: “Illegal infiltrators pose a major threat to our internal security. This is leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country, as well as putting huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities. My government has decided to implement the process of National Register of Citizens on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration. Security along the border will be further strengthened to prevent infiltration.”
The President’s address is considered to be the government’s policy declaration.
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