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BJP hints at NRC in Uttarakhand, Cong sniffs polarisation bid ahead of Lok Sabha polls

The ruling BJP on Sunday said the Uttarakhand government might soon create a National Register of Citizens (NRC) on the pattern of Assam so that infiltrators’ entry into the state could be banned, a move that drew a sharp criticism from the Congress.

dehradun Updated: Aug 05, 2018 22:19 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,NRC,Polarisation
People wait in queue to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district in Assam. The Uttarakhand BJP wants an NRC in the state to check entry of infiltrators.(Reuters File Photo For Representation)

The ruling BJP on Sunday said the Uttarakhand government might soon create a National Register of Citizens (NRC) on the pattern of Assam so that infiltrators’ entry into the state could be banned, a move that drew a sharp criticism from the Congress.

The Opposition party alleged the BJP government’s move to create an NRC is an attempt to polarise the society ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and divert its attention from the “all-round failures of the BJP regime at the Centre and its involvement in a scam in its Rafale fighter aircraft deal with the French government.”

The BJP government downplayed its supposed move to create an NRC, stating it was only keeping a close watch on the infiltrators. “It is not something unusual…Officials have always been on standing orders to keep a watch on people with fake identities…If any such individuals are caught living in the state, strict action would be taken against them,” cabinet minister Madan Kaushik told reporters on Saturday.

He was replying to a query if the government was planning to prepare a dossier like NRC that has excluded over four million people in Assam. Kaushik also parried queries about the data concerning people with fake identities living in the state.

The BJP though claimed that the state government might create an NRC to identify the infiltrators. “Our government is serious about the issue of infiltrators staying in the state,” state BJP president Ajay Bhatt said. “The government”, he clarified, “is also serious about creating an NRC in the national interest, so they (infiltrators) cease to become a threat to our country and burden on our resources.”

The Congress hit out at the BJP, accusing the ruling party of diverting public attention from the scam in the fighter aircraft deal between India and France. “Not only is that party trying to divert the people’s attention from the scam in the (Rafale) fighter aircraft deal but also from the central government’s failures to fulfil the promises it (BJP) made ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” said Congress leader Surendra Kumar. “It (BJP) is also trying to polarise the society ahead of the next (2019) Lok Sabha elections,” he alleged.

A BJP leader, who holds a senior position in the state government, said the Congress’s anger over the NRC issue is understandable. “It is understandable because thousands of migrants from Bangladesh who illegally settled in Udham Singh Nagar district and elsewhere in this state post the India-Pakistan war are the Congress party’s vote bank,” he alleged. “It is they (Congress) who got the fake Bengali settlers the status of bona fide citizens by providing them critical documents like voter identity cards and ration cards,” the BJP leader said, requesting anonymity.

“The Congress leaders are worried about NRC because such infiltrators forming that party’s vote bank are settled not only in this state but also across the country.”

On the NRC issue the BJP has got support from its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates. “A process like NRC is necessary not only for this state but also for the entire nation because it will also help keep the infiltrators out of the country,” said former state RSS general secretary LP Jaiswal. He agreed that the infiltrators “are not only a drain on the country’s precious resources but are also a security threat to the country.”

Bhatt rubbished the allegation levelled by the Congress that the BJP’s supposed plan to create an NRC was to polarise the society ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “That is a baseless allegation aimed to mislead the people,” he said. “The concept of NRC was mooted in the Assam accord which was an agreement reached between the Congress government and the leaders of the Assam movement in 1985.”

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 22:18 IST