GUWAHATI, Nov 24 - Principal Opposition party Congress today said it would oppose any attempt by the government to reject or scrap the recently-released final NRC and also against efforts to get the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB passed in Parliament.
It accused the ruling BJP of raising issues like having another round of NRC update in Assam and of trying to implement the CAB with a view to divert attention of the masses.
Addressing a press conference here, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora said the grand old party will hold a big protest at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi on December 13 against the government�s stand on NRC and CAB as well as against what he termed as the failures of the Narendra Modi regime on the economic front.
�On no account will we allow the final NRC to be rejected or scrapped. Congress is ready to make supreme sacrifice for this. The 3.11 crore people who have made it to the final NRC did not just somehow got included in the register. It took 14 long years, from the tripartite talks of 2005 till the publication of the final NRC in 2019, for the process to run its course. The final NRC is the outcome of it. Detailed discussions and deliberations were held and the Central government, the State government, political parties, non-political organisations and civil society groups, among other stakeholders, gave their views. Only following that were the guidelines, modalities and standard operating procedures formulated. The RGI accepted it. The Union Home Ministry accepted it. The Supreme Court directly monitored the process. Only then were the 3.11 crore people included in it,� said Bora.
He added that the apex court had praised the final NRC.
�The Central and State governments and Amit Shah himself had termed the NRC as a historic document. After publication of the final NRC, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs gave a press conference and clarified that the update was conducted in a scientific and transparent manner and by following due process of law. So on what basis is the government of India now saying that there will be another round of NRC? On what basis is Himanta Biswa Sarma saying that the NRC update will be carried out in Assam again, along a country-wide NRC?� Bora said.
The Congress leader said that in case there are any errors or discrepancies in the final register, then steps should be taken to rectify those.
He added that in July this year the Central government had issued a notification exempting Assam from the National Population Register (NPR), which will be update between April 1 and September 30 next year.
�Assam was exempted from the NPR as the State was already having the NRC update. That proves that the Government of India had recognized the NRC. But now it has changed track and taken a U-turn. We oppose this. We condemn this. The government is now talking of another NRC only for the sake of politics,� Bora said.
He said changing the cut-off date for the NRC to 1951 will violate the Assam Accord and added that the Congress party will never agree to that.
�1951 is not possible. On what basis is Himanta Biswa Sarma speaking about cut-off date of 1951... Even he knows that it is now possible... The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is looking into the petition filed by the Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha seeking cut-off date of 1951. In the affidavits filed by the Central and State governments in the case, they have stated that 1971 is the cut-off. But now they talk of 1951,� said Bora.
He added that most of the 19 lakh people left out of the final NRC are Indian citizens who missed the cut on account of technical reasons.
Bora said the government should now give priority on starting the appeal process by these 19 lakh people before the Foreigners� Tribunals (FT), besides on sorting out the issue of D-Voters and ensuring that people who have already spent more than three years in detention camps are able to secure release on bond as directed by the Supreme Court.
�Himanta Biswa Sarma knows very well that 1951 cannot be the cut-off. He also knows very well that the NRC update process cannot be repeated� But the BJP is harping on these issues because after abrogation of Article 370 and the apex court�s judgment on the Ram Temple matter the party has no other issues� BJP�s aim is to divert attention of the masses from the economic downturn, rampant unemployment, price rise, fall in consumption and purchasing power, and corruption. So they are deliberately trying to shift focus to CAB, NRC and 1951 as cut-off,� said Bora.
Regarding the CAB, Bora termed it as �unconstitutional�.
�It (CAB) will go against Article 14 of the Constitution. The full bench of Supreme Court had earlier given a judgment stating that no government can act in a manner which may dilute the Preamble of the Constitution. CAB will dilute the Constitution... The Citizenship Act has no mention about religion. In its report, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on CAB had clearly mentioned that it is impossible to verify that people who have come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have fled on account of religious persecution,� Bora said.
He added that CAB, if implemented, will violate provisions of the Assam Accord.
He said the 19 lakh people left out of the final NRC had applied for inclusion in the register claiming to be Indian citizens.
�Now the BJP is saying that CAB will help such people. But none of them said that they came here after 1971. So, on what basis can they now say that they came to the country post-1971? The BJP is blackmailing Indian citizens to make them claim that they are immigrants,� said the APCC chief.