GUWAHATI, Sept 11 - Accusing the ruling BJP of trying to keep alive the foreigners issue for the sake of political gains and of speaking in contradictory voices with regard to the final NRC, the Congress today said it will continue to oppose any attempt by the Centre to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill notwithstanding the NDA’s numerical advantage in the Parliament.
Addressing the media here, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora said that the BJP had wasted no time in taking credit for the NRC updating process when the draft document was released last year.
“When the draft NRC was published on June 30, 2018 and 41 lakh people were left out of it, the BJP and Amit Shah had taken credit for the register. They had termed all those 41 lakh people foreigners and said that those people would be expelled. They had taken credit and said that NRC would be implemented across India and had also made that an issue during the recent Lok Sabha polls... Why is the BJP not taking credit for the NRC now... People are not fools. All these years they (BJP) were doing politics on the issue of foreigners. But now that 22 lakh of those people have been included in the final NRC and 19 lakh left out, the BJP is saying that foreigners have been included in the register. The double-faced character of BJP has got exposed,” Bora said.
He added, “Who had stopped the BJP and the AGP people from filing objections? Only 1.87 lakh objections were filed. This shows that they lack sincerity and seriousness to solve the issue. Where were the BJP and RSS workers then? First you do not file objections. And then when the final list is published you want to create an issue. You (BJP) just want to keep alive the issue for the sake of votes. You want to polarise the people. Or else why did the BJP take credit then and now its leaders are saying that they do not accept the final NRC?”
Bora alleged that BJP leaders are making contradictory statements on the final NRC. “Who is stating the truth? The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said that the NRC was scientific and carried out in a transparent manner. State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass has rejected the NRC. Himanta Biswa Sarma has rejected the NRC. Amit Shah is silent. The Prime Minister is silent. The Chief Minister if silent. There is so much of contradiction. It proves that they (BJP) want to keep alive the issue for political reasons,” he said.
He said that if any foreigner has got included in the final NRC then the responsibility for it lies with the Centre and the State government.
“We want to ask the BJP and the AGP to prove if any foreigners have got into the NRC. Just making claims is not enough. We in the Congress are saying that lakhs of Indian citizens have been left out of the final NRC and we are ready to prove that. If foreigners have got enrolled in the final NRC, then the Central and the State governments should take the responsibility... The Supreme Court had only formulated the guidelines, it had not implemented the NRC. But the BJP now wants to shift the blame to the apex court... People went through a series of scrutiny. Only then were they included in the NRC. If, even after all this, foreigners have been included in the register then the BJP governments at the Centre and in the State are responsible,” said Bora.
He also accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of making “mere political statements”. “Why do you want to implement the CAB if you really do not want foreigners in Assam? ... If you are so committed not to allow foreigners in Assam, then why are you seeking to implement CAB with the cut-off date of December 31, 2014? On the one hand you talk about protection of the rights of local people and of implementing Clause 6 and on the other hand you want to bring in the CAB. How will rights of the indigenous people be protected if lakhs of foreigners come once CAB is implemented,” Bora argued.
The Congress leader also alleged that the BJP is threatening the people of the North East by dangling Article 371. “Amit Shah said that Article 371 will stay. Why did Shah have to make that comment when nobody has demanded repeal of Article 371? Why is he making an issue out of a non-issue? Amit Shah is threatening the people of the North East. He is hinting that if people stop supporting the BJP then Article 371 will be withdrawn,” Bora said.
Accepting that the BJP-led NDA has a huge majority in Parliament, Bora said that if the government wants it can pass the CAB. “But I want to assure the people that Congress will not compromise on the matter of protection of the national interest of Assam. We will oppose any attempt to bring in the CAB,” Bora said.
Complimenting the chief ministers of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland for their public stand against the CAB, Bora accused Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and AGP president Atul Bora of failing to “show the same spirit”.
A 57-member delegation of the State Congress will undertake a ‘bus yatra’ from September 13 to October 28 to “boost the morale of those Indian citizens who have been excluded from the final NRC. The event will be flagged off by Tarun Gogoi.
“We will go to the people, boost their confidence and tell them not to be apprehensive. Congress will fight till every last Indian citizen is included in the NRC,” Bora said, adding that the yatra will cover all nooks and corners of Assam.
When differences in the comments made on the issue by Gogoi and Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Debabrata Saikia were pointed out, Bora said that some people are trying to give a different twist to the statements made by the former chief minister.
“There is no difference within the party. We want all those who came to Assam before March 25, 1971, to be included in the NRC, while all those who came after that date should be excluded. That is the core of the matter and on that there is no difference... Gogoi had only said that if we had been in power then we would have made the NRC a historical document, but the BJP wants to turn it into a wastepaper,” said the APCC chief.