Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broken his silence on implementation of the Supreme Court-mandated Assam citizens’ list with a sharp rebuttal to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had warned that it could lead to “civil war and bloodbath”.
PM Modi suggested it was reflection of her loss of faith.
“Those who have lost faith in themselves, fear loss of popular support and lack faith in our institutions can use words like ‘civil war’, ‘bloodbath’ and ‘desh ke tukde tukde’. Evidently, they are disconnected from the pulse of the nation,” PM Modi told news agency ANI in an interview on Saturday.
This is the first time that PM Modi has spoken on the NRC, or national register of citizens.
Last month, a draft list of citizens put out by the government had excluded 40 lakh people who had, for one reason or the other, not able to prove their Indian citizenship.
Opposition parties such as the Congress have said they were all for deporting foreign nationals but the government’s messy execution of the citizens’ list ended up harassing citizens. Statements by politicians, particularly those trying to pitch the list as a step closer to throwing out people unable to establish their citizenship, had led to a panic in the state.
“I want to assure the people that no citizen of India will have to leave the country (because of the NRC). As per the due process, all possible opportunities will be given to get their concerns addressed,” PM Modi said.
So far, there is nothing to indicate that people who are not able to prove their citizenship can be expelled any time soon. As things stand, a foreign national can be deported only after the country of origin confirms that they are its nationals.
PM Modi said it is “extremely unfortunate” if someone is making it about politics. “It is about people, not politics,” he said and blamed the Trinamool Congress and Rahul Gandhi-led Congress of playing politics over the citizens’ list.
He also blamed Congress governments of allowing the problem of illegal immigration from Bangladesh to fester for decades.
The Congress has rebutted claims that its governments did not take action against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and put out official figures that indicate a large number of Bangladeshi citizens were deported during the years the UPA government was in power.
Janata Dal Secular’s Danish Ali countered PM Modi, blaming his government and party, the BJP, of coming out with a list that excluded 40 lakh people to score political points. “How many people have you deported in the last four years,” Danish Ali asked the government.