Days after his Sadbhawna fast, an attempt to change his image, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi showed signs of going back to his old ways by writing to the Prime Minister complaining about the National Population Register exercise, which he believes will help illegal migrants.
The NPR is meant to be a register of residents in India, an identity database that would help better target services to people.
The letter written on September 26 informs the PM that Modi had taken up the matter with home minister P Chidambaram in March, expressing "serious apprehensions about verification of citizenship status of individuals and misuse of document to be generated by those who are not citizens of India, but illegally residing in India".
Modi here is obviously hinting at illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India, a key BJP/RSS agenda.
The BJP had raised this issue earlier, but what is crucial here is that Modi has chosen to write the letter just when there was speculation that he was trying to assume a liberal face, with his sights set on being BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate.
In March, Modi had written to Chidambaram, "I am told that in the ongoing exercise of preparation of National Population Register and subsequent assignment of Unique Identity Numbers to individuals, no exercise will be undertaken by the local revenue or police authorities to verify the citizenship status of individuals. The approach poses a grave danger in that people who are not Indian citizens will also be able to obtain UID and subsequently Multi Purpose National Identity cards."
He added that even ration cards - which are not citizenship proofs but only for entitlements - are accepted for various purposes as proof of residence or documents for inclusion in electoral rolls, which are thereafter used to secure an Indian passport.