National Register of Citizens is a mischievous plan to divide India, says Chidambaram

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday asserted that the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) was a ‘sinister and mischievous plan’ to divide the country and was part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-Bharatiya Janata Party effort to push its agenda of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

The ‘trinity’ of NRC-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)-National Population Register (NPR) would directly affect the Muslims as any other community, even if they were left out in the NRC, would be included through the CAA, contended the Congress leader, briefing mediapersons at the party headquarters.

“The NRC is a sinister and mischievous plan to divide India. Under the NRC, every person residing in India has to prove that he is a citizen of India. In modern, liberal democracies, citizenship is based on the principle of territoriality,” he said.

“Naturally, there is widespread fear and uncertainty among the Muslims of India,” the former Finance Minister added.

“The NRC-CAA-NPR exercise is part of the RSS-BJP plan to push its divisive agenda of a Hindu Rashtra. The Constitution of India embodies the values of equality, equal protection of the laws, secularism, humanism and constitutional morality. In order to protect these values, every patriotic Indian has the duty to fight the pernicious doctrine of Hindu Rashtra,” asserted the senior Congress leader.

Terming the CAA ‘patently discriminatory’, he said three neighbouring countries have been included while Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan had been excluded and some minority groups, including Muslims, kept out of its ambit.

Mr. Chidamabaram, who was the Home Minister when the UPA had updated the NPR in 2010, claimed that there was a ‘world of difference’ between the NPR of 2010 and the proposed NPR of 2020.

“NPR 2010 was conducted in a few States when there was no controversy about NRC and without the unhappy experience of the Assam NRC,” he said.

“NPR 2020 will ask for information on the last place of residence, the place of birth of the parents, voter identity, passport number, driver’s licence, PAN and Aadhaar. Who added these additional fields and why,” asked Mr. Chidambaram. “ In terms of text and context, NPR 2010 and NPR 2020 are very different. NPR 2020 with the additional fields is a disguised attempt to do an Assam NRC-like exercise throughout the country and therefore, it must be stoutly opposed.”

Commenting on the protests by people over the CAA-NRC, the Congress leader also said thousands of people, especially students, were on the streets to protect the Constitution given by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Babasaheb Ambedkar.

“Abraham Lincoln saved the Constitution of the United States in 1865; our task and our duty are not different,” he said.

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