New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become isolated within its coalition — the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) — over its proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The NRC means the “register containing details of Indian citizens living in India and outside India”.
Of the 13 NDA constituents, 10 are opposed to the NRC — a fact that might stop the BJP from going ahead with its plan of carrying out a nationwide NRC in the immediate future.
Only the Republic Party of India (RPI), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Apna Dal haven’t yet opposed the NRC.
Many alliance partners have also voiced concerns on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after voting for it in the Parliament. A few have also raised apprehension on the recently announced National Population Register (NPR).
NPR is a register of “usual residents” of the country being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national levels. There are fears that the NPR exercise is linked to the NRC.
The problem for the ruling alliance is that opponents of the NRC and NPR are those parties which voted for the Citizenship Act in Parliament and are now voicing concerns on NPR and its possible link with the NRC.
Janata Dal (United)
Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar said in Patna last week the NRC won’t be implemented in the state.
K.C. Tyagi, general secretary of JD(U), also told ThePrint there is no question of supporting the NRC and that the government should dispel confusion over its connection with NPR.
“The government should clear confusion that NPR data will not be used for NRC. There are too many questions listed in the NPR form — like parents’ birth place and dates. These are creating confusion. When the government is only updating the population register, then why are they asking for details of pan card, passport, driving licence? These details were not included in the 2010 (NPR) exercise,” he said.
The JD(U)’s support to the citizenship bill in Parliament developed cracks in the party with senior leaders like Prashant Kishor and Pawan Varma openly speaking out against it for supporting the Act.
Kishor, the party’s vice-president and election strategist, said this week the NPR and the NRC are connected, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify that there will be no NRC at all.
Shiromani Akali Dal
One of the BJP’s oldest allies, the Akali Dal, has also spoken against the NRC after voting for the Citizenship Act in Parliament.
Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral said the Akali Dal, which is a party representing a minority community, will not support the NRC.
“Our president Sukhbir Badal has said Muslims should be included in the Citizenship Amendment Act. We are concerned about the proposed National Population Register despite home minister’s (Amit Shah) detailed clarification (that there is no link between NRC and NPR),” he told ThePrint.
Gujral said there are “serious questions”of trust now.
“This exercise (NPR) will create more fear among the minority community as they have to show so many documents,” he added.
Lok Janshakti Party
LJP president Chirag Paswan also categorically said they will not support the NRC unless the government addresses concerns of the Muslims. Like the JD(U) and the SAD, the LJP had also voted in favour of the Citizenship Act in Parliament.
“There are nationwide protests over the CAA. The government should convene a meeting of all the NDA allies to dispel fear that arises due to this Act. Anyway, we are not supporting the NRC,” Paswan told ThePrint.
On the NPR, Paswan said there are a lot of questions over it. “How will tribals, Dalits furnish passport and driving licence? It is not voluntary but mandatory. It will create more fears among the downtrodden communities,” he added.
Asom Gana Parishad & AIADMK
The AGP after supporting the citizenship law in Parliament approached the Supreme Court, challenging the legislation after violent protests rocked Assam. The party has now said they won’t support the NRC.
The exercise has already been carried out in Assam and the final draft of the NRC came out in August, which excluded 19 lakh people.
Amit Shah had announced in Rajya Sabha on 20 November that the NRC updation process will be carried out afresh in Assam concurrently with the rest of India.
Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK also said it would not support the proposed pan-India NRC.
“We have supported the government on the CAA, but we have demanded that time also to include Tamil (Hindus) under it. We will not support the NRC without (the government) allaying fears of the people,” a Rajya Sabha MP of the party, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint.
Another ally, All Jharkhand Students Union is also opposed to NRC.
NDA’s all Northeast allies against NRC, CAA, NPR
Another NDA ally, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) in Nagaland, has opposed the NRC from the very beginning. The party issued a show-cause notice to its Lok Sabha MP Lorho S. Pfoze and Rajya Sabha MP K.G. Kenye for voting in favour of the Citizenship Act. Kenye resigned after huge protests against the CAA rocked the Northeast.
Besides the NRC, the NPF is also against the population register exercise.
Other alliance partners, including Mizo National Front, Bodoland People’s Front, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, are also against the CAA, and the proposed NPR and NRC.
Other parties that oppose NRC
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD is not an NDA ally but has supported the government on many legislations — chief among them being the CAA.
But on NRC, Patnaik has made it clear that he won’t support it.
The YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh, which had also supported the Citizenship Act in Parliament, has now opposed the NRC.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has said due to fears that have gripped the Muslims, his government will not implement the NRC in the state .
YSRCP Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Sai Reddy has even demanded that Muslims should be brought under the purview of the CAA.