Why doesn’t Amit Shah rule out NRC in clear terms: Chidambaram
New Delhi: Noting that NRC in Assam has led to”sour experience,” senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said the National Population Register (NPR) of the BJP government”was clearly linked to the NRC” and asked why Home Minister Amit Shah wasn’t saying in clear terms that the NRC exercise will not be carried out.
Former Home Minister Chidambaram told ANI in an exclusive interview that the NPR carried out by the UPA government was different from the NPR practice being carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government as six questions are added.
He said the NPR exercise has been stopped after the population census during the Congress-led UPA government.
“Go back to what we did and what we did not do. The NPR was given to Census Commissioner and Registrar General only in selected states. It was an aid to the Census of 2011. So we did NPR in 2010 as an aid to the Census of 2011. The matter ceased When the census was finished. We didn’t go. We didn’t do NRC. We did not even begin to think of NRC. Today the context is different. The BJP government has done an NRC in Assam,” he said.
The former Finance Minister said that the NRC in Assam had left over 19 lakh people “stateless”.
“If the highest quarters inspired trust, we will accept that word. NPR is clearly linked to NRC. Why did the Home Minister not say yesterday we are doing NPR; we won’t do NRC? Why does he not say that? Let them say that NRC is ruled out. Let them say it will never be accomplished. It is the ten words that are simple. We just did NPR. It helped the census. We did not take half a step forward,” he said.
Home Minister Amit Shah had informed ANI earlier that NPR and NRC were not linked. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also said at a rally at the federal capital last month that there was no debate on implementing NRC.
Chidambaram said the content of NPR carried out by the UPA government and that by the Modi government was very different both in”text and context”.
He said that there were 15 questions in the NPR conducted during the UPA government but the BJP-led government has added questions such as the place of the last residence, place of birth of father and mother and licence number.
They have added six fields – what is your last place of residence, what’s the place of arrival of your father and mother, driving licence number, voter ID number, Aadhar number. Why are they asking all these items? Therefore, both the context and the text are different. We have experience of Assam NRC. Do not compare NPR 2010 that was to help the census with the NPR 2020, which is a step towards the NRC,” he said.
Chidambaram said if the BJP claims the NPR 2010 was correct, it should stick to the form. “Do not go beyond the 15 fields. And announce that the NPR will not be done. Even yesterday the Home Minister refused to declare the NRC won’t be done,” he said.
Shah had targeted the opposition parties over protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) during a rally at Jodhpur on Friday.
“We have a bitter experience of Assam NRC. There was no Assam NRC when we did NPR 2010. We didn’t have the bitter experience of 19,06,657 people. Do you discount that elephant? That elephant is sitting there. In the face of the elephant, you see that elephant and you pretend that there’s no issue,” he said.
Answering a query, he said the NPR done during the UPA government was useful to the census since NPR data “is practically all the information that census requires.”