NEW DELHI :
Bihar chief minister and chief of Janata Dal (United) Nitish Kumar on Tuesday asked the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to dispel the prevailing fear and confusion over citizenship, putting pressure on ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Speaking on the sidelines of a party meeting in Patna, Kumar called for removing new columns in the National Population Register (NPR) saying this created fear in the minds of people.
“It must be kept in mind that the exercise has been conducted previously. Of course, there are misgivings about columns asking people to disclose the places of birth of their parents since most citizens might not be aware of the same. Our leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will urge (the government) to drop these columns, if possible. NPR was carried out in 2011 and then again in 2015. It should be carried out through the old mechanism rather than adding new columns," said Kumar.
Kumar’s comments come just three days before the start of the Parliament’s budget session, which is expected to witness a face-off between the government and Opposition parties that have come out against both the NPR and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA.
“Efforts should be made to normalize the situation in the country. People fear that the information that is being collected through NPR would be used for National Register of Citizens (NRC). There is no way NRC will be implemented in Bihar. If answering these 4-5 columns in NPR is optional, then what is the use of asking such questions about date and place of birth of father and mother," the Bihar CM said, adding the Union government should make efforts to win the confidence of people.
Talking about the contentious CAA which has led to nationwide protests, Kumar said the issue is before the Supreme Court and the apex court will decide if it is constitutionally valid or not. “The matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Centre. Only the Supreme Court can take any action to address the issues. People should wait for the Supreme Court to take up the issue for discussion in the court. We want the environment in the country to get normalized," Kumar added.
The party’s vice-president and poll strategist Prashant Kishor and general secretary Pavan Varma—both of whom have criticized JD(U)’s backing for the CAA in both Houses of Parliament—did not attend the Patna meeting. “Someone wrote a letter; I replied to it, someone is tweeting, let him tweet. What do I have to do with it? One can stay in the party (JDU) till he wants, he can go if he wants...Do you know how did he join the party? (Home minister) Amit Shah asked me to induct him," Kumar said on Kishor’s absence.