Following the countrywide confusion unleashed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that there was no discussion on the National Register of Citizens, today Home Minister Amit Shah in an interview to ANI news agency reiterated the same thing, that there was no discussion on NRC right now.
The interview comes in the wake of questions raised after the PM’s statement at Ram Lila ground in Delhi on Sunday. His comment on NRC was compared by his political rivals and the media with several comments by Amit Shah earlier as well as the President, where they said NRC would be implemented countrywide.
Therefore today the government could be seen carrying out a damage control exercise in the interview. Amit Shah said, ‘There is no need to debate this (pan-India NRC) as there is no discussion on it right now. PM Modi was right and there is no discussion on it yet either in the Cabinet or Parliament.’
Amit Shah also clarified that there was no link between the NRC and the National Population Register, which was announced today and is said to be a totally voluntary exercise. However, already Kerala and Bengal have refused to carry out the NPR. Amit Shah said, ‘There is no link between the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register, I am clearly stating this today.’
Addressing the other statement by the PM that had caused controversy – that detention centres are mere lies spread by the opposition – Amit Shah did not do a U-turn but distanced his government from detention centres. ‘Detention centres have nothing to do with CAA or NRC. Detention centres have been there in India for many years, they have not been built by the Modi government,’ he said.
He also said, ‘Detention centres are a continuous process. This country has some laws, we cannot let anyone who enters the country illegally live here. When these people get caught, they are put in detention centres for trial.’
Amit Shah also said that information obtained through NPR cannot be used for NRC and the two would be separate processes.
Home Minister Amit Shah’s remarks came on a day the Union Cabinet approved the proposal for conducting Census of India 2021 and updating of NPR. The minister said that while the Census was held every ten years, the NPR was started by the UPA government and this government was carrying it forward as it was a ‘good exercise’.
‘NPR is a register of population, NRC is a register of citizens. There is no link between the two and the two have different processes,’ Amit Shah told ANI.
He said the names of people living in the country are in the NPR and schemes and programmes for the country are made based on these statistics. With West Bengal and Kerala having decided to put a stop to NPR exercise, Shah said there should not be politics over the exercise as it is aimed at benefiting citizens and for improving the planning of welfare schemes. ‘I will talk and appeal to them that no politics should be done on this,’ Amit Shah said.