Citizenship law, NRC can be used to persecute Muslims, warns Prashant Kishor
Prashant Kishore is learnt to have told Kumar that teh Citizenship Amendment Act on its own was not something dangerous, but along with NRC it could turn into a lethal weapon of persecution against Muslims.Updated: Dec 15, 2019 17:45 IST
Janata Dal (United) vice president and election strategist Prashant Kishor’s strong opposition to his party’s stand in the Parliament on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) could trigger a political churn in Bihar where assembly elections are due next year.
With the JD-U sticking to its old position of opposing the implementation of the national register of citizens (NRC) in Bihar despite the Centre’s determination to implement it, the party and its ally BJP could run into rough weather ahead of 2020 polls on the issue despite former backing the citizenship law.
On Sunday, Kishor took to Twitter to oppose the NRC and described it as “demonetisation of citizenship”.
“The idea of nation wide NRC is equivalent to demonetisation of citizenship....invalid till you prove it otherwise The biggest sufferers would be the poor and the marginalised...we know from the experience!!#NotGivingUp,” he tweeted.
The idea of nation wide NRC is equivalent to demonetisation of citizenship....invalid till you prove it otherwise.— Prashant Kishor (@PrashantKishor) December 15, 2019
The biggest sufferers would be the poor and the marginalised...we know from the experience!!#NotGivingUp
Kishor has already exhorted CMs of 16 non-BJP ruled states to come together on the issue and has been critical of JD (U) over its stand for the first time. Some JD (U) leaders are already reminding the party of its old stand on NRC. LJP leader Chirag Paswan has also urged the Centre to clear its stand on the issue, as minority votes would be crucial in many seats.
Kishor had claimed that JD (U) boss and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar assured him that the party would stick to its old stand of opposing NRC in Bihar. The party’s general secretary KC Tyagi said that the party would go by what Nitish Kumar decides. “If what Kishor has said is true, things become clear,” he said and refused to speculate on Kishor red flagging the citizenship law.
Kumar has been quiet over the issue even as other leaders in the party, including MP RCP Sinha, have been critical of Kishor and even attacked him for being a “JD (U) leader on compassionate ground’. However, Kishor has been firm on his stand, telling those close to him that he was not there to speak according to political needs and compulsions and that he did not nurse any political ambition at this stage.
After talks with Nitish Kumar Saturday evening, Kishor said Sunday morning that he was always guided by his conscience and is known for speaking his mind and would continue to do so as he wanted to learn politics as an honest student.
“Nitishiji brought me in JD (U) and I will talk to him if I feel the need. I have nothing to do with what others say,” he said, indicating that he could now work to build a larger consensus among non-BJP ruled states against the twin impact of NRC with CAA.
Kishore is learnt to have told Kumar that the CAA on its own was not something dangerous, but along with NRC it could turn into a lethal weapon of persecution against Muslims and that it was the first time the JD (U) had openly supported the government on a contentious issue. He also underlined that CAA was an afterthought to address the difficulties experienced in implementing the botched up NRC in Assam.
In the past, the JD (U) had been critical of BJP for raising controversial issues like Ram temple, Article 370 and NRC. However, the BJP pressed with them and got them through. With Assembly elections due next year, this could make things difficult for the JD (U), especially in the minority-dominated areas where it did well in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. JD (U) and BJP have already announced that they would fight the polls together under Nitish Kumar’s leadership.
Kishor is learnt to have made it clear that JD (U) must stick to its own agenda and mandate to maintain its own identity and not openly support the BJP. “So far, the JD (U) worked to dilute the opposition in the interest of the BJP. In politics, with BJP and JD (U) remaining together for 25 years, not opposing each other is different from openly supporting each other. It is a question of compatibility under a working administrative-political arrangement without actually sacrificing one’s own agenda,” sources quoting Kishor said.
A senior leader close to Kishor said that the equations between Kumar and Kishor were such that neither could leave the other. “Kishor can walk into any party other than BJP. He has openly said that ideologically, he could not fit into the BJP. But he can go anywhere else if he wants and people will welcome him, but that is not what he wants,” he added.
Kishor insists that the JD (U) must keep firm on its stand on NRC. “The BJP is doing what is well within its democratic right. Home minister Amit Shah was rightly saying that CAA is meant to give citizenship, but it was only half truth. He did not say what it will do along with NRC. All these were in its agenda and it sought votes on it. But for parties, which got votes against it, there is equal need to live up to the trust people reposed in them,” he said.