- There will be civil war, blood bath because of NRC: Mamata Banerjee
- Contemplating to take biometrics details of over 40 lakh people excluded from NRC draft: Centre to Supreme Court
- BJP giving a 'mysterious twist' to NRC issue, spreading distrust: Congress
- NRC draft published in accordance with provisions of Assam Accord: Rajnath Singh
- Names of members of same family missing in NRC final draft
- Mayawati seeks all-party meeting on Assam NRC issue
- Supreme Court asks authorities not to take any coercive action over Assam's draft NRC
- Modi government is doing what Rajiv Gandhi could not do: Amit Shah on Assam NRC draft
NEW DELHI: Exclusion of 40 lakh people from the updated National Register for Citizens (NRC) of Assam snowballed into a major political controversy on Tuesday with Parliament witnessing noisy scenes as Opposition parties forced adjournment of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP President Amit Shah, in an unusually combative mood, said the critics were trying to protect illegal Bangladeshi settlers. Mocking the Congress, he said the party had the opportunity to implement the NRC but it “simply did not have the courage” to do it.
However, several Congress governments which ruled at the centre and the state lacked the courage to implement it.
Reminding the Congress that the NRC was their idea, he said: "The Assam Accord was signed by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 14, 1984. I want to ask the Congress: how can you raise questions about the NRC today?" Shah said.
The Supreme Court later stepped in and the Modi government started the process, he said, adding that the apex court is monitoring the entire exercise.
It is a matter of "grave sorrow" that no party apart from the BJP and the BJD found it fit to say that illegal immigrants have no place in this country.
The BJP is not doing politics over it and its stand has been consistent on the issue whether in power or in opposition, he said.
Later, talking to reporters at the BJP headquarters, Shah said the exercise would be firmly implemented as illegal Bangladeshis are not only a threat to national security but they also violate human rights of Indian citizens. He tore into the Opposition asking them to make their stand on illegal Bangladeshi settlers clear.
Shah did not spell out what exactly would be the follow-up actions on NRC, saying the priority is to complete the exercise. The government will take a call on evicting illegal immigrants later, he said.
Shah accused the Opposition of fomenting misinformation to fuel regional strife saying bonafide citizens from other states residing in Assam need not worry. Notably, Shah said the problem of illegal Bangladeshi settlers was not confined to Assam. He said the BJP would take a call on whether to expand the exercise to other states like West Bengal at an opportune time.
Taking on West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has accused the BJP of pursuing a 'divide and rule' policy, Shah alleged that she saw a "vote bank" in illegal immigrants for win in elections while his party was looking at the security of the country and rights of its citizens.
No Indian citizen should be concerned and natives of any other state living in Assam would not be touched, he said, adding, NRC must be implemented firmly and fairly.
The BJP has seized on the issue that resonates with its broader agenda of nationalism and Hindutva to corner opposition parties in the election year, with Shah pitching the party as one standing for rights of Indians as opposed to its rivals who are concerned with the rights of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
"The BJP is committed to the national security and safety of its citizens. This is our top priority. All other parties should clear their stand," he said, asking them to answer in 'yes or no' on whether they support NRC.
He said the NRC is the soul of the Assam accord which the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had signed and it clearly stipulates that every single illegal immigrant would be identified and his name struck off the voters list.
The Congress has a habit of changing its stand, he alleged and took a dig at its president Rahul Gandhi, asking him to remember his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi's statements that illegal immigrants have no place in India.
Asked about human rights concerns raised by some parties and rights bodies, he said he is concerned about the rights of India citizens whose resources were being grabbed by illegal immigrants.
He also condemned Banerjee for her warning that there could be civil war and bloodbath, saying the country was divided once in the name of civil war.
"She should clarify what kind of civil war she is talking about," he said.
Asked about a demand of West Bengal BJP leaders for an NRC in the state, Shah said the NRC is presently confined to Assam and the party will take a stand on such issues at an appropriate time.
The BJP has often spoken about the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in West Bengal and hopes that it will become a major political plank in the state, where Shah is aiming to win 22 of its 42 Lok Sabha seats in the next elections. It had won two in 2014.
Shah said he chose to express his views on the NRC through the media after opposition members did not let him speak in the Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned for the day following protests by rival members over his attack on the Congress.
The claim by some parties that it will become an inter-state dispute is an attempt to create confusion, Shah said, condemning such statements.
He said the NRC in its initial inquiry has found that 40 lakh people living in Assam are not Indian citizens but people can file their objections and verifications will be done as per the process laid down by the apex court.
(with PTI inputs)