New Delhi: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel categorically stated Saturday that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be implemented in his state if the Narendra Modi government goes ahead with the exercise on a national scale.
“There is no question of implementing NRC in Chhattisgarh, my state is very secure,” Congress leader Baghel said in conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta at an ‘Off the Cuff’ event in New Delhi.
The NRC, recently implemented in Assam, requires residents to prove their citizenship. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly asserted that the government will push for a nationwide NRC. But Baghel said there was no need for it in Chhattisgarh, since it isn’t a border state.
On Naxal menace in Chhattisgarh
Baghel said the 2013 Naxal attack in Sukma that killed 27 people, including Congress leaders V.C. Shukla, Mahendra Karma and Nand Kumar Patel, was a “supari (contract)” killing, and accused the central government of shielding the perpetrators.
“It was a political conspiracy. The ones who gave supari were the ones who’d benefit from it. When Narendra Modi went to campaign there, he said the culprits would be caught in 15 days. The government was formed, and for five years, nothing happened,” Baghel said.
“It is shocking that NIA’s report mentions no name of any senior Naxal leaders. Even the ones named were removed. They didn’t even question all the witnesses,” he added. “We’re just saying, you’ve done your investigation and submitted the final report. Now, give it to the state government, it is ours to investigate. What can be the reason that they are not returning the case to us? They want to protect the people who did it. Those in power at the Centre know who was responsible for it. That’s why they don’t want to let us investigate it.”
Baghel also said his government would fix responsibility for the 2012 Sarkeguda encounter that killed 17 people, which a judicial probe recently termed “fake”.
“The Sarkeguda encounter was clearly fake. An expert committee will determine who was responsible for it,” he added.
Baghel said, under the previous BJP government in Chhattisgarh, there were several fake encounters, and alleged “they had no Naxal strategy, simply a bullet for a bullet”. He added that the Naxal threat in Chhattisgarh had diminished since his government took over the reins of the state.
“A Naxalite recently wrote a letter to his leader, in which he said that, this year, they are facing enormous trouble getting fresh recruits. This is a big achievement for our government,” the CM said. “Earlier, Maoists fought for a cause, but today they are just extortionists.”
‘Rahul Gandhi right person to lead Congress’
Speaking about the Congress’ plan to reinstall Rahul Gandhi as party chief, Baghel said he was the “only one who took on the BJP government”.
“In the current political scenario, we need Rahul Gandhi,” Baghel said. “At the national level, there is no one else of his stature who can lead the party. Moreover, the national leaders who could be an option don’t challenge the BJP government the same way he does.”
He added that the BJP’s attempts to “mock” and “undermine” Rahul Gandhi would not work, as they had tried to do the same to Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi when she first took over, but “to no avail”.
Baghel also said the Modi government’s move to strip the Gandhi family of SPG cover was “petty”, but insisted his government’s decision to strip BJP’s former CM Raman Singh of black cat commando cover was not the same.
“The Gandhi family has sacrificed a lot for this country, and the BJP government has removed their SPG protection. It is petty politics. What we have done with former CM Raman Singh’s security in Chhattisgarh cannot be compared,” he said.
Asked about the Congress’ turn towards “janeu (sacred Brahminical thread)” politics, with Rahul Gandhi visiting temples and spelling out his gotra (clan), Baghel said there was nothing unusual about it.
“Just like we never heard ‘Nehru was Muslim’ a decade ago, Rahul Gandhi didn’t visit temples either,” said Baghel, hinting that the former Congress chief’s temple run was the need of the hour.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)