Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeTalk PointOn NPR, should states trust Home Minister Amit Shah's repeated assurances?

On NPR, should states trust Home Minister Amit Shah’s repeated assurances?

Home Minister Amit Shah said that people won't have to submit citizenship documents under the NPR exercise, which begins on 1 April, and no one will be marked ‘doubtful’.

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Home Minister Amit Shah has said in Parliament that people won’t have to submit citizenship documents under the NPR exercise, which begins on 1 April, and no one will be marked ‘doubtful’. After Kerala’s decision not to implement the National Population Register, West Bengal demanding its repeal, and Tamil Nadu putting the exercise on hold, Delhi assembly has passed a resolution against NPR.

ThePrint asks: On NPR, should states trust Home Minister Amit Shah’s repeated assurances?

Unless Amit Shah amends Citizenship Act again, his assurances about ‘doubtful citizen’ provision hold no value

Somnath Bharti
Lawyer, AAP leader

Home Minister Amit Shah has given one misleading statement after another and so has Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But neither has raised the promises made to the public, promises that have not materialised.

With regards to the NPR, we know very little. First, it won’t be like Aadhaar or any Census but rather comprise identity-related information. In fact, the Allahabad High Court recently issued a notice to the central government based on a plea that questioned the exact format of the proposed NPR.

Also, the CAA specifically mentions that anyone who can’t submit papers to prove their citizenship will be declared a ‘doubtful citizen’. Unless Amit Shah amends the Act again, his reassurances about this provision hold no value. He is just practising appeasement politics after the political disarray in Delhi in the last two months.

He is also trying to deflect people’s minds from larger issues like the failing economy, rising unemployment and now the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s like dealing with a hungry child by putting him on top of an almirah. S/he will forget about the hunger and instead demand to be brought down from the almirah.

The bottom line is that Amit Shah’s recent assurances in Parliament are not legal or constitutional. Also, all major non-BJP states like Kerala (and soon Delhi) are rejecting or going to reject the NPR and that is why the BJP is shrinking and losing state after state.

People opposed to Modi-Shah have an unhelpful, often delusional attitude, unwilling to accept anything they say

Former BJD leader Jay PandaBaijayant Jay Panda
Vice President & Spokesperson, BJP

First of all, when the Home Minister of the country gives an assurance like this on the floor of the House, it warrants respect. It is not a casual statement but rather an accountable one that should be taken seriously, as with statements by other institutions like the Supreme Court or Election Commission. It should not be seen as a political statement made by a party member.

I have noticed that there is a very unhelpful and often delusional attitude among people who oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. They are unwilling to accept anything the two say even if it comes from a place of rationale. We saw this happen in the case of CAA too.

Even political parties whose leaders favoured the CAA in the past came out opposing it in the public. Former prime minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh had supported the CAA amendments in 2003 and has pointedly not contradicted himself in the current debate. However, many of his colleagues have been hypocritical and tip-toed around their leaders’ earlier statements on the CAA.

Also, the NPR is a very different animal from the NRC and the CAA but people often conflate the three. The NPR is not about identifying illegal immigrants, and it is just a register of all residents. Anyone who says Amit Shah’s reassurances about the ‘doubtful citizen’ provision in the CAA is not in line with what the law mandates has interpreted the law incorrectly.

Institutional assurances do matter and one must be rational about government policies.

Amit Shah’s NPR statement not worthy of our trust because BJP leaders haven’t kept their promises in the past

Manuraj Shunmugasundaram
DMK spokesperson and advocate, Madras High Court

The statement of Home Minister Amit Shah is wholly undeserving of our trust because of the track record of similar statements issued by his ministerial colleagues like Nirmala Sitharaman and others. Sitharaman had announced in August 2017 that Tamil Nadu would be exempt from the National Eligibility Entrance Test for a year but this didn’t happen. Similarly, Piyush Goyal’s statements for the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP) in October 2018 unravelled within a few weeks.

Another reason why people should be sceptical about Amit Shah’s statement is that state assemblies, including those under the control of BJP allies such as Tamil Nadu, have decided to take an unequivocal stand against the NPR. The Tamil Nadu government has announced that it will be putting the NPR on hold. When even the allies of the BJP do not trust the central government, there is no reason to believe the home minister’s statement.

The most shocking part of Amit Shah’s statement has to do with him calling some parts of the exercise ‘optional’ in nature, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Specifically, the 1948 Census Act states that people are legally bound to answer every question put forth by the Census enumerator. It is common knowledge that the Census House Listing process and the NPR exercise are to be held simultaneously. So, Amit Shah has spoken pretty much against the provision of law as laid out under the Census Act.

Words of Prime Minister and Home Minister are supposed to carry weight but Modi and Amit Shah have diluted that

Chandan Yadav
Secretary, All India Congress Committee, In-charge, Chattisgarh 

What Home Minister Amit Shah said in Rajya Sabha can’t be taken on face value because people are doubtful of him for three reasons.

First, BJP and its leaders have time and again shown consistency in distorting facts, backtracking from their statements, and diluting what’s been said on various public platforms, constitutional institutions, public rallies and speeches. For example, the BJP-led UP government in 1992 had assured the National Integration Council that it would perform only symbolic ‘kar seva’ on the disputed Ayodhya site, and won’t demolish Babri Masjid. But everyone knows what happened later.

Second, with regards to the NRC, Amit Shah was very clear about implementing the exercise to update the citizens register through a particular “chronology”. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a completely different stand on the NRC.

Third, on various public platforms, in public speeches and at media conclaves, PM Modi has been found to be distorting history and facts. Statements of the prime minister and those holding constitutional posts used to carry weight with people accepting their promises on face value. But it isn’t the case anymore under Modi and Amit Shah.

Also read: Scindia in BJP: Congress leaders can’t do without power or Gandhis failing to revive party?

By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. No. BJP engineered / supported/ ignored killing of the Muslims in Delhi are the latest reason, after 2002, and many reminders since 2014, that Modi-Shah duo just cannot be trusted about any suggestion of docility towards this community. CAA, NPR and NRC must be scrapped not only in spoken words but from all written records.

  2. Why are we giving citizenship to others, if we don’t have enough financial and technical strength within our country to support our own people? Why are we interested to allow more people to come on our land if we ourselves don’t have enough connectivity with our own citizens? Why are we discussing such issues when millions in India are fighting hunger, poverty and nourishment when many women are not having access to education when many youths are walking jobless?

    There are many whys but no answer…………….and this government is running away from those why. Why are we bringing back the same people with the same agendas? Why are they not discussing development, economy and jobs? Easy to say, they are running away!

  3. The Print team has asked the wrong question. Can the States ignore a law made by the Parliament and refuse to implement it? Can the States disregard a direction issued by the Center? Under the Constitution, in either case, the Governor can report to the center that administration in the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution. Then the Center can impose Presidential Rules. The political wisdom of imposing the Presidential Rule is a different issue. But, such power is available.

  4. Personally I feel that this CAA / NPR / NRC enterprise has run through its useful life. It is not the golden key that will deliver Sonar Bangla next year. The exercise in Assam – for which there was a historical basis – has been a shambles, one of several reasons to remember CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s tenure with less than reverence. Many internal fires have been lit, global attention, even opprobrium, has been attracted. Bangladesh has been repeatedly assured that their government and people will not be affected, but the mood on the street has been inflamed against India. Almost all opposition ruled states – now including Tamil Nadu – are opposed. The Delhi riots are at least tangentially related to this issue. Great wisdom in not ploughing on like an Arctic ice breaker.

  5. little but no reason why the Home Minister should be trusted. Its not the muslim minorities that may become the target in long run for proving the Citizenship, its perhaps crores of Hindus who newer came across any process earlier to register themselves under any Govt. Schemes. Mr. Shah has many claims to amuse its own partymen’s in Loksabha or Rajyasabha with various versions of his statements against domestic issues. The recent examples like law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh under Yogi, AMU , Jamia and JNU violence under the full proof cover of the police has already put him an unworthy ally to trust. With various videos circulating on social media clearly establishing how the Delhi police served as Godmen to the goon by giving all logistical and technical support for rioting which cost more than 50 precious lives. How come all this makes his trust worthy. Historically he has elevated himself from various charges in Gujrat with the agencies giving clean chits one after another and little hope of any one questioning its credentials. NPR still remains a more decisive subject on which the background of MODI-SHAH alliance holds a fearsome element into the minds to people from minorities. Moreover if the commitments get fouled, who is going to bear the consequences, the Judiciary , Government in states or Centre. No way anyone is held accountable making things more difficult in coming days to absorb. The most serious implications would be a worst economic harshness which may take many lives for years to come. This country of ours was governed by a protectionist Government who used to keep a balance approach considering the plight of the masses on religious, social or economic backgrounds. Now its different as we look towards all the happenings in terms of a business like activity wherein Profit and Loss is derived by the rules set by the ruling party at centre. If Mr. Shah wants an honest lookout of the masses towards him, then he should act more decisively in bringing the culprits of JNU, Jamia, AMU and Delhi Violence on account with harsh punishments. The example he has set under himself is a ruined Capital of India more hostile to criminal elements without the fear of the Govt. The Corporate style of governance is more vulnerable when it has merged itself with the ideology of the RSS making it more difficult to set protocols of Governance. God Save us ALL in left behind by Corono.

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