PATNA: RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha on Friday claimed that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has lost his credibility in the wake of his JD(U), an alliance partner of the BJP, voting in support of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Parliament.
Addressing a press conference here, Kushwaha expressed scepticism over Kumar's categorical assertion that NRC will not be implemented in Bihar and challenged the chief minister to convene a special session of the assembly and get a resolution passed to this effect.
"Such a step has been taken in Kerala recently. If Kumar does the same, he might be able to redeem some of the credibility he has lost in the wake of his bewildering vacillation on this burning issue", the former Union minister who had floated his outfit after quitting the JD(U) in 2013 said.
He also pooh-poohed the assertions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that NPR and NRC are not related and said "anybody can check the records of the Parliament since 2014.
At least nine times it has been said by this government that NPR would be the precursor to NRC".
Asked why he did not speak out on the issue while he was a member of the Union Council of Ministers, from which he resigned in December 2018, Kushwaha said: "it is against norms for one minister to counter what is being said by another".
The RLSP chief, who joined the opposition Grand Alliance after quitting the NDA, said there was "a significant difference" between the NPR conducted by the Congress-led UPA government in 2011 and the exercise that is taking place at present.
"In the previous NPR, nobody was asked about his or her parents places of birth etc. These questions had first figured during the NRC that was confined to Assam. So we have reasons to fear that NPR will be followed by a country-wide NRC. It would hit the poor, especially those living in villages, hard as very few people will be able to produce documentary evidence of their citizenship", Kushwaha said.
"I am ready to believe Modi and Shahs claim that NPR and NRC are unrelated if they convene a special session of Parliament and get the 2003 amendment deleted whereby NRC was mandated", the RLSP chief said.
Kushwaha, who is on a statewide "samjho, samjhao desh bachao yatra" a tour aimed at explaining to the common public the perils of CAA and NRC, added "I have been meeting the youths, who are full of anger over issues like lack of jobs, poor education facilities etc.
It is very unfortunate that the government at the Centre has plunged the nation into a crisis that has diverted the public discourse".
"But, we must understand that this is not a Hindu versus Muslim issue. NRC, if implemented, will not adversely affect only Muslims. A huge number of Hindus, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, will suffer on account of the ill-conceived move of this government. It is another thing that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have of late started resorting to lies, faced with protests that have gripped the entire country", Kushwaha added.