Amit Shah had clearly said that the “chronology will be that the CAB will be succeeded by NRC.”
After week-long protests against the new citizenship law, the first voices from the government and the ruling BJP came out on Friday with minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and senior BJP general secretary Ram Madhav saying it’s “premature” to talk about a nation-wide National Register of Citizens (NRC) as no plan has been laid out for it. This signals a climbdown on the stand, reiterated by home minister Amit Shah, that the exercise will follow the controversial act. And every illegal Indian will be picked up “one by one.” Shah had clearly said that the “chronology will be that the CAB will be succeeded by NRC.”
Naqvi said there is “no plan for a nationwide NRC” and “there has so far been no discussion on the matter at any level of government”.
“It’s premature to talk about NRC as the government has not yet made any details about it available,” Madhav, in charge of North-East, told The Indian Express. “Right now, the focus is on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. NRC is a proposed activity home minister has announced to be taken up in 2021. No details have been made available to us. It’s premature to talk about it,” he said.
Also, speaking to The Indian Express, Naqvi added: “NRC is limited to Assam. There is no plan of NRC in any other part of the country. You are talking about an unborn baby…Spreading rumours about it.”
Asked about statements from top BJP leaders, including one from its working president JP Nadda on Thursday reiterating BJP’s promise on a nationwide NRC, Madhav said: “…It’s an announcement made by the Home Minister. Since it has to happen two years down the line and no details have yet been made known to the country, this is not the time to talk about the NRC.”
These remarks indicate a softening of the stand taken both by Shah and a number of his senior colleagues.
Politics could be a reason, too. States are pushing back and two of the BJP’s allies in Bihar, JD-U and LJP, which is part of the NDA government at the Centre, have come out in public against the NRC. Incidentally, both parties voted in favour of the CAA in Parliament earlier this month.
On December 18, The Indian Express had reported that there were signs of BJP dialing down its rhetoric on the proposed NRC for the time being as protests against the CAA gripped different parts of the country and its allies conveyed their disenchantment over the proposed exercise.