File photo of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram.(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)
File photo of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram.(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)

Twitter war breaks out between Chidambaram, Amit Malviya over NPR

Chidambaram, who was appointed home minister after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, had led the effort within the Congress-led UPA government to build a national database of residents.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 12, 2020 01:05 AM IST

Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday came under sharp attacks from the Bharatiya Janata Party that put out videos from his days as the home minister to underscore the Congress connection to the National Population Register, or NPR.

Chidambaram, who was appointed home minister after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, had led the effort within the Congress-led UPA government to build a national database of residents. The first round of data was collected by census enumerators in 2010.

In the first video shared by BJP’s Amit Malviya on Twitter, then home minister P Chidambaram is seen talking about the NPR.

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“This is the first time in human history that we are beginning to identify, count, enumerate, record and eventually issue an identity card to 120 crore people.

An exercise of this kind has not been attempted anywhere else in the world,” Chidambaram is heard saying in this video.

The veteran Congress leader responded to this video nearly 20 hours later, asking tweeple to the fact that “there was no mention of NRC” in his statement.

In his counter-offensive, Chidambaram also insisted that the BJP-led national coalition had a “larger and more sinister agenda” that made NPR 2020 “very dangerous and different” in text and context of NPR 2010.

Chidambaram also challenged the government to stick to the 2010 version of the NPR if it had no intention to link it to the controversial NRC, or National Register of Citizens promised by the BJP.

Amit Malviya, who heads the BJP’s information technology cell that plays a key role in formulating the party’s social media responses, delivered his comeback to Chidambaram’s barb with another video.

“Mr Chidambaram, Your memory seems to be failing you. Let me help you a bit here…,” Amit Malviya tweeted.

In this one, Chidambaram is heard explaining the NPR process and makes a reference to the citizenship register.

“NPR process is for the purpose of issuing a residents card, which eventually will lead to a citizenship card,” Chidambaram is heard saying in this video from 2012.

Also read: Union Cabinet clears Rs 3,900 crore plan to update NPR, once powered by UPA govt

Amit Malviya went on to claim: “It is infact the NDA that has delinked the NPR from citizenship.”

But it might be impossible to delink NPR and NRC.

The government gets its powers to enrol people for the national population register or NPR under a 2004 amendment to the Citizenship Act. Section 14 A of the Act, inserted into the law by the Atal Bihar Vajpayee government in December 2004, empowered the Centre to “compulsorily register every citizen of india and issue national identity card to him”.

The population register is the first step towards building the citizens register.

Under the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the government can at any point decide to upgrade the population register to a citizenship register by requiring people to submit the proof.

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