Amidst the rising hue and cry over the release of NRC draft in Assam, senior Congress leader and former state CM Tarun Gogoi, has openly confessed that the National Register of Citizens was the Congress party’s idea, a remark that can land the grand old party in a trouble after it has been attacking the BJP government over the issue. In an interview to The Indian Express, Gogoi said that it all started way back when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and the Congress can’t ‘disown it. He said that the party wants the list to be fully corrected and protection to all genuine Indian citizens.
“It is our baby. It is my baby. And it was started during Manmohan Singhji’s time. The whole purpose was to see how many foreigners are identified… and genuine Indian citizens, irrespective of their religions… their names should be in the NRC. That was the whole idea. It is our baby. We cannot disown it,” he told the daily.
Gogoi, who headed the Congress government in Assam between 2001 and 2016, said that his party is concerned the way list was prepared. He said that the final draft list “is full of mistakes”.
“It is not foolproof. There is a big leakage, as a result of which 40 lakh people have been put in uncertainty, creating a sense of insecurity. 40 lakh is not a small number…” he said.
The Congress leader also utilised the opportunity to attack the BJP government, accusing it of creating problems in the state. He said that the Congress wants the list to be fully corrected. “Because of the BJP government’s short-sighted politics, they are creating all sorts of problems.”
“The names of all genuine citizens should come on the final list,” he added.
Gogoi even said that the BJP is politicising the issue and resorting to dividing people on the religious line. He said that the BJP wants to give protection to Bangladeshi Hindus. “With the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2014, they have decided to grant citizenship to Bengali Hindus and to other people,” the former CM said.
Gogoi’s remark comes in the backdrop of the BJP president Amit Shah’s claim that the NRC was at the heart of the Assam Accord signed between Government of India in 1985 headed by Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi and representatives of the Assam Movement.
On Monday, the much-anticipated second draft of the NRC was published with 2.90 crore names out of 3.29 crore citizens in the state. The non-inclusion of 40 lakh names triggered a heated exchange of words between the ruling BJP and opposition parties. The issue also rocked the Parliament with the opposition trying to corner the government by raising the fate of 40 lakh people whose names were not included in the list.