Bengaluru: Amid nationwide protests against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday his government or Parliament hasn’t yet discussed the NRC. But Tejasvi Surya, the BJP MP from Bangalore South, made it clear that the NRC will be implemented, as it is mandated in the CAA.
In an interview to ThePrint, Surya said the implementation of NRC was clearly mentioned in the BJP manifestos for 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and the people were aware that it would come into force if they elected Modi.
“It is not that one fine day Modi ji woke up and said we will implement the NRC. We had explained to people if we come to power, we will do this. People gave us the mandate to do this. If you did not read our manifesto, did not hear our speeches, or chose not to hear us, then it is your problem,” Surya said.
“Amit Shah said in his speech in Parliament that ‘NRC aane waala hai’. The NRC will be implemented, as it is the mandate of the statute of the CAA. The Supreme Court has directed the government to do an NRC. When it will come, how it will come — that is left up to the wisdom of the government. But when it is done, it will be done in a free and fair manner,” Surya said.
However, after the publication of this interview, Surya contacted ThePrint to clarify that he meant that the CAA was part of the BJP manifesto in 2014 and 2019, not the NRC.
Addressing a rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan Sunday, PM Modi said those opposing the CAA had told an “evil lie” about the NRC, calling it an attempt to cause havoc in the country. “It has not been discussed by the cabinet, and I will assure all the 130 crore Indians that since 2014, when we came to power, the term NRC has not been part of any discussion in the government,” he said.
Home Minister Amit Shah, on the other hand, has spoken about the nationwide NRC in Parliament, as well as at public rallies in various places.
Asked why Modi and Shah were saying two different things, Surya said: “The government may not have discussed it. But it is a statutory requirement of the CAA to (conduct an NRC).”
Protests a result of ‘half-understanding’ CAA
The lawyer-turned-politician said there was unnecessary rumour-mongering about the NRC, and that no Indian citizen, irrespective of religion, would be deprived of citizenship.
He said instead of being conducted in a democratic manner, the debate on CAA and NRC was being used to incite violence, and pin the blame on PM Modi.
“Our government is prepared to handle all of this. If you don’t like Modi, you are protesting, then there will be a grain of honesty to it. But why make it a Hindu-Muslim issue? If you have hatred for Modi, say so by printing banners and protesting. That way you will be honest to yourself instead of misguiding people,” Surya said.
At a pro-CAA rally Sunday, Surya called those opposing the new citizenship law “puncture-wallahs” and “illiterate”, leading to a major backlash. He clarified that his statement was metaphorical and not intended to demean anyone’s profession, but said the protests and violence were a product of “half-understanding” the CAA.
Asked about detention centres, Surya went on the offensive, asking if anyone had been kept in these centres.
“Are there any people in centres right now? Is this Modi’s brainchild? The Citizenship Act of 1955, Section 14A, speaks of NRC. Who introduced it? Did Modi introduce it? On whose direction did the previous government introduce Section 14A?” Surya asked.
“These things are nothing but fear-mongering,” he added.
This article was updated after Tejasvi Surya contacted ThePrint to clarify he meant CAA, not NRC, was part of the BJP manifesto.