KOLKATA: Asserting that the National Population Register is nothing but "NRC in disguise", Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday that the Modi government has changed gears and is now only talking about the NPR after the "fiasco" in Assam over the citizenship list.
The former Union home minister said states are justified to oppose the implementation of the NPR and the CAA as the Constitutional validity lies with the Supreme Court.
"Our purpose is to fight the sinister purpose of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (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 all political parties fighting against the NPR, the CAA and the proposed nationwide NRC must come together.
"We are fighting against NRC and CAA. Sometimes together, sometimes differently. The important thing is that we are fighting," he said.
On the opposition-ruled states participating in the January 17 meeting on the NPR, Chidambaram said participation does not mean acquiescence or 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 claimed.
Chidambaram said chief ministers of states ruled by his party will take a position consistent with the Congress Working Committee resolution against the CAA, the NPR and the NRC.
"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.
Hinting at the Trinamool Congress, Chidambaram exuded confidence that opposition parties which did not participate in the meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the issue will come along in the future.
"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.
Chidambaram said he went to the Park Circus Maidan in the city where Muslim women are on a sit-in for the past 12 days against the CAA.
On the petitions filed against the CAA in the Supreme Court, Chidambaram, also a lawyer, said, "Many eminent lawyers, many eminent jurists have already opined that the CAA is unconstitutional. We will put up arguments on our side."
He said granting power of detaining authority to the Delhi Police commissioner under the stringent National Security Act was "completely unacceptable, completely unnecessary and undemocratic".
"Under its provisions, anyone can be held. It is a retrograde provision. Every day the BJP government resorts to such repressive measures," the Congress leader said.
Chidambaram said his party is confident about doing well in the upcoming Delhi polls and also in the elections in Bihar, slated to be held later this year.