The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, Amit Shah, did a lot of tough talk on Tuesday vis-à-vis the publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Rejecting Opposition concern over the exclusion of 40 lakh people in Assam from the final draft NRC, Shah said his party is committed to implement the NRC “firmly and fairly … to the last full stop because the issue is about “national security, security of borders and the citizens of this country”.
He castigated the Opposition parties for putting votebank politics above national interest”, he asked the Congress and the Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) to come clear on the issue of “illegal Bangladeshis” in the country.
A report in the The Indian Express quoted Shah as saying at a Press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, “The illegal migration has been damaging the national security of this country. People were being killed. The NRC is for protecting human rights, the rights of Indians. The country cannot run like this… You cannot have people from everywhere. The Opposition should explain if it has consideration for national security. How do you protect the country by encouraging and protecting illegal migrants? The NRC is for security. It is our firm stand and we will implement it. For us, it is top priority. There should not be any confusion on it.”
Shah’s remarks in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday on NRC led to an uproar. He targeted the Congress: “NRC is being conducted on SC (Supreme Court) order. There are 40 lakh people (missing in the list)… Whom do you want to save? You want to save illegal Bangladeshis… this was the Congress PM’s initiative. He (Rajiv Gandhi) did not have the courage. We have courage and we are doing it.”
The report further quoted Shah as saying, “I want the Congress party to clarify what is its stand on Bangladeshi illegal migrants. I want Rahul Gandhi to clarify it; I want Trinamool Congress to clarify it. There cannot be two views on it. You have to come out with your stand on it.”
“You are accusing the BJP of bias for implementing NRC. Where has it originated? When people’s lives were troubled, students in the State had held a long agitation… Assam Accord was signed by the then Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi. It was the Congress party’s full majority Government… NRC is the soul of the Assam Accord,” he said.
Wondering how Congress could question “just for vote bank politics”, Shah said: “Your Government tried to do it in Assam in 2005 also. But you did not have the guts. You did not have the courage to push Bangladeshi illegal migrants out of the country. Because for you, vote bank was more important, not the country’s security. For you, the rights of the citizens were not important.”
While assuring that no Indian should be worried about Assam’s NRC because the names of genuine Indian citizens will not be deleted and they would get opportunity for claims and objections, Shah differentiated between refugees and illegal migrants.
“When a person comes from another country to protect his dignity, identity, properties and religion, he is a refugee. Those who are coming for jobs or for other economic purposes are illegal migrants.” Taking a pot shot at Mamata Banerjee for her remark that there could be civil war and bloodbath in context with final draft NRC publication, the BJP president remarked, “She should clarify what kind of civil war she is talking about. Mamataji sees nothing other than vote bank… everyone has their own prism… we see the national interest and she is looking at other things.”
On human rights concerns raised by few political parties and rights bodies over 40 lakh citizens being excluded from NRC, Shah had this to say, “I am concerned about the rights of Indian citizens whose resources are being grabbed by illegal immigrants”.