Even as the attempt to have the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam appears to have fallen flat on the face of the BJP, its enthusiasm to have the exercise replicated in other parts of the country seems not to have waned. On the contrary, it appears to have gained traction even in unexpected quarters such as Haryana, which is poll bound.
In line with his party’s stand, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya is of the view that that NRC should be “implemented across India to prevent the nefarious designs of illegal immigrants.” Many parties have joined the chorus and backed the BJP while a few including the saffron party ally, the JD(U) have opposed it.
Even if the demand is accepted one hiccup that may come in the way of getting the NRC implemented in all the states is that there is no legal basis for the same. In the case of Assam, NRC was a part of the Assam accord and there was no dispute with regard to the cut-off date. But the demand for NRC in several other states would run into trouble as an acceptable cut–off date would prove elusive.
That notwithstanding, BJP units in several states and its allies are batting for an Assam-like exercise in their respective domains.
In Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has declared that the NRC will be compiled in his state as well. Surprisingly, the Congress too has backed the proposal. This comes in the backdrop of the party hitting out at the BJP over the NRC in Assam.
“We will implement NRC in Haryana,” declared Khattar in Panchkula. Reacting to it, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said, “What the Chief Minister has said is the law. Foreigners have to leave; it is the responsibility of the government to identify them.”
Despite the NRC in Assam coming under fire for its alleged acts of commission and omission, the BJP has upped the ante by demanding the same in West Bengal, Karnataka, New Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, and also in Hyderabad.
As expected, the issue acquired political overtones with the opposition parties slamming the BJP. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee got a resolution passed in the Assembly opposing the conduct of the exercise in the state. “We do not accept the NRC. What has happened in Assam can never happen in Bengal,” she said during the debate in the House. It was supported by the left and the Congress. Mamata appreciated Nitish Kumar too for opposing the exercise despite being an ally of the BJP.
In Karnataka, a day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) busted a terror module of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on July 10, 2019, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya asked for the extension of the NRC to Karnataka. “Illegal immigrants are a security threat to the state. Yesterday a terror module that operates from Bangladesh was busted in Bengaluru. I call upon the Centre to extend NRC to Karnataka and Bengaluru to weed out Bangladeshis who’ve come here illegally,” he said in the Lok Sabha.
In New Delhi, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari, on August 31, 2019, said that the situation in the national capital was alarming and that the NRC would be implemented there. He said, “Illegal immigrants who have settled here are the most dangerous, we will implement NRC here as well.”
Also read: Names of all NRC applicants published online
In Bihar, the BJP and its students wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) favour an NRC.
Jharkhand, which is scheduled to have Assembly polls alongside Haryana and Maharashtra this November is pushing for an NRC. Chief Minister Raghubar Das, a few days ago said, “I have appealed for implementing NRC in Jharkhand too. Illegal Bangladeshi migrants infiltrated through the West Bengal route to Jharkhand’s Santhal region. Now, they are spreading across the state. They are eating out the rights of legal Muslim residents of Jharkhand.”
Even in Hyderabad and Mahbubnagar districts of Telangana, there are illegal Bangladeshi migrants, Amit Shah said in September 2018. “There are illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Hyderabad and Mahbubnagar districts. TRS chief KCR should speak whether they should be deported after cancellation of their citizenship,” he said.
The Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) vice-president Ananta Debbarma had earlier said, “We shall also seek the revision of NRC on the lines of Assam.”
Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) president Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl too echoed the same view when he said, “It is our constitutional right to seek NRC revision. The sons of the soil and original residents of Tripura are suffering because of illegal immigration and infiltration. Tripura is a corridor for infiltration because of its closeness to Bangladesh. We want the safety of our people.”
In Nagaland, the state unit of the JD (U), in Mizoram, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), in Meghalaya, the Khasi Students Union (KSU) too have pitched the demand for NRCs in their respective states.
With the issue having become so divisive, both politically and religiously, the matter is likely to dominate the public discourse for quite some time.